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Report: Juul weighing opening stores in US; South Korea to sell e-cigarettes

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Report: Juul weighing opening stores in US; South Korea to sell e-cigarettes

U.S. e-cigarette giant Juul Labs Inc. is considering plans to open physical stores in the U.S. and international markets to directly sell its products to consumers, The Wall Street Journal reported May 30, citing unnamed sources.

The San Francisco-based Juul has hired staff for possible locations in Dallas and Houston and is expected to open a store in South Korea, the Journal reported. The company, which sells its e-cigarettes and refill pods through retailers and online, has yet to make a final decision about opening U.S. stores, according to the report.

Juul did not immediately respond to requests for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The U.S. stores, if opened, would not admit anyone under 21 years of age and would enforce Juul's monthly purchase limits of two devices and 15 refill kits per person, according to the Journal.

Juul rejected Baltimore and Chicago as possible locations for physical stores but chose Houston and Dallas because of high smoking rates in the cities, the Journal reported.

The company is one of many e-cigarette manufacturers that would fall under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposed guidelines for the industry to confine sales of most non-tobacco flavors to specialty vaping shops or online stores with heightened age checks for customers. Regulators have called on Juul and other companies to address what the FDA has said is a surge in teen use.

Juul pulled most of its flavored e-cigarette refill pods from retail stores in November 2018 following the FDA's crackdown on the industry. Juul continues to sell flavored pods through its website.

U.S. tobacco giant Altria Group Inc., which owns 35% of Juul, is also planning to open at least one physical store to sell IQOS, a device made by Philip Morris International Inc. that heats a tobacco plug without igniting it to produce flavored vapor. The FDA approved the device for sale in the U.S. in April following a premarket review.

Altria is planning to launch IQOS in Atlanta through a branded store and about 500 other retail stores in the city.