Craig Mitchelldyer / AP
Juul may continue to sell its electronic cigarettes, at least for the time being, after a federal appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked a government ban.
Juul submitted an emergency earlier Friday, and applied for a temporary halt while anchoring the sales ban.
The e-cigarette manufacturer had asked the court to stop what it called an “extraordinary and illegal act” by the Food and Drug Administration which would have demanded that it stop the business immediately.
The FDA said on Thursday that Juul must stop selling the steam appliance and cartridges with tobacco and menthol flavors.
The action was part of a comprehensive effort by the agency to bring scientific scrutiny to the multibillion-dollar arms industry after years of regulatory delays.
To stay on the market, companies must show that their e-cigarettes benefit public health. In practice, this means proving that adult smokers who use them are likely to quit or reduce smoking, while teenagers are unlikely to become addicted to them.
The FDA said Juul’s application left regulators with significant questions and did not include enough information to assess potential health risks. Juul said they submitted enough information and data to resolve any issues that were raised.
A panel of three judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted Juul’s request for a stay while the court considers the case.
While Juul is still a top seller, the share of the US e-cigarette market has fallen to about half. The company was widely accused of increasing steaming for minors a few years ago, but a recent federal investigation showed a drop in steaming rates for teens and a shift away from Juul products.
The units heat a nicotine solution to a vapor that is inhaled, bypassing many of the toxic chemicals produced by burning tobacco.
The company said in its lawsuit on Friday that it submitted a 125,000-page application to the FDA almost two years ago. It said that the application included several studies to evaluate the health risk among Juul users.
Juul said the FDA could not argue that there was a “critical and urgent public interest” in immediately removing the products from the market when the agency allowed them to be sold during the review.
The company noted that the FDA rejected the application while approving those submitted by competitors with similar products.
The FDA has OK’d e-cigarettes from RJ Reynolds, Logic and other companies, while rejecting many others.
In 2019, Juul was pressured to stop all advertising and eliminate the fruit and dessert flavors after they became popular among middle school students. The next year, the FDA limited flavors in small vaping units to just tobacco and menthol.