Kevin Burns, CEO of Juul Labs – the maker of the bestselling e-cigarette in the U.S. and center of federal regulators' crackdown into what they're calling a teen vaping "epidemic" – has a message for parents whose children are addicted to his company's products: "I'm sorry."
Since launching in 2015, Juul has quickly come to dominate the e-cigarette industry with roughly 40% of the market, becoming such a dominant player that Altria, the top U.S. cigarette company, invested $12.8 billion for a 35% stake in the San Francisco-based start-up. But the company has a problem: Its vapes are incredibly popular with teenagers.
The Food and Drug Administration has declared teen vaping an "epidemic," citing federal survey data that showed nearly 21% of high school students vaped last year. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and health care advocates blame the surge in teen vaping on Juul.
CNBC's Carl Quintanilla interviewed Burns for a documentary, "Vaporized: America's E-cigarette Addiction," which premiers Monday at 10 p.m. ET. Quintanilla, who toured one of Juul's manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin with Burns, asked him what he would say to a parent with a child who was addicted to Juul.