According to the Wall Street Journal, Juul labs Inc., an American e-cigarette maker, is considering entering the heavily regulated Japanese market.
In a statement on Tuesday, Juul said Haruhiko hirate, a former employee of Takeda pharmaceutical company in Tokyo, was hired to lead the work. He was appointed as the representative director and chairman of the newly established Juul labs Japan Co.
For Juul and hirate, Takeda's head of public relations and public affairs, entering the Japanese market will be a challenge. Nicotine containing e-cigarettes are classified as drugs and need to be licensed for sale in Japan, and no company has yet been approved.
But Japan has become a battleground for alternative cigarettes that heat tobacco rather than burning it.
If Juul enters the market, it will compete with tobacco giants such as iqos of Philip Morris International Inc. and glo of British American tobacco.
Juul must be a responsible and science oriented company and must win the trust of public health stakeholders and society, hirate said in a statement. I look forward to ensuring that Juul labs Japan Co. Ltd. takes this methodical approach to explore bringing its electronic nicotine delivery system to the 19 million smokers in Japan.
Juul had a turbulent year.
This is the target of U.S. government investigations and hundreds of lawsuits, and e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular among young people, initially accused of lung disease and later linked to problematic marijuana products.
India banned the use of e-cigarettes, and Juul products suddenly withdrew from online stores a few days after they were introduced into China. After rapid global expansion, the company has exited markets where it is difficult to gain a foothold, such as South Korea.
Juul's biggest market remains the United States, which faces a deadline this year to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to continue selling its products.
Juul said it has never targeted minors, but one billion smokers worldwide.
The company announced that its headquarters would move from San Francisco, where e-cigarettes are banned, to Washington, D.C., to get closer to regulators and policymakers.
KC crosswaite, the new chief executive, is trying to repair Juul's image and relationships with global regulators.
'hirate can help Juul win trust and get in touch with Japanese regulators,' crosswaite said in a statement.