Juul ends sale of sweet flavors after mysterious deaths

Juul is suspending sales of its sweet flavors, including mango, creme and cucumber, while the Food and Drug Administration reviews the products, the company announced Thursday.

The company will continue to sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavors.

The announcement comes as Harris County health officials urge residents to stop vaping until the CDC can conclude their investigation into the product.

Thirty-three deaths have been reported in 24 states, and are believed to be caused by vaping. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 75 years old.

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The majority of those reporting illness are overwhelmingly male and under the age of 35.

In Harris County, there are five confirmed or probable cases of vaping-related lung illness, compared to the nearly 1,500 cases reported nationally in 49 states.

Health officials are warning parents to pay close attention to objects in their child's bedroom. Items that look like pens and USB drives can actually be vapes hidden in plain sight.

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In a statement, Juul's new CEO, K.C. Crosthwaite, said that the company's products are intended for adult consumers.

"We must reset the vapor category by earning the trust of society and working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers," the statement said.

Critics said the company should go further and discontinue its sale of flavored products altogether.

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"Juul's announcement today that it is leaving mint and menthol flavors on the market shows that it hasn't changed one bit under its new leadership and isn't serious about preventing youth use," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.

The company has come under fire while the FDA and Centers for Disease Control investigate an outbreak of lung injuries and deaths linked to vaping, which has sickened more than 1,479 Americans, according to the latest numbers, which the agency released Thursday.

As part of its ongoing investigation, the agency is expanding laboratory testing to include blood, fluid and urine tests, as well as lung biopsies from patients.

Health officials last week started referring to the lung injuries by the acronym EVALI, which is short for "E-cigarettes or Vaping product use Associated Lung Injury."

While the cause of vaping injuries hasn't been determined, and no single product has been linked to the lung injuries or deaths, the majority of people were affected by vape products containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Nicotine has not been eliminated as a possible culprit in the outbreak, because some of those sickened reported using only nicotine devices.

Eyewitness News' Charly Edsitty contributed to this report.

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