Applegreen to sell Juul e-cigarettes only to adults
Vaping tech firm Juul Labs has struck a deal with Ireland's biggest motorway service operator to sell their flash drive-style e-cigarettes in the retailer's 125 Irish outlets - but only to adults.
The deal with Applegreen is Juul's second major distribution deal since arriving in Ireland in May.
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The San Francisco-headquartered company previously negotiated terms to be sold in 160 Circle K forecourts nationwide. They also are sold in the main specialist retail chain in Ireland, Hale Vaping.
Since their launch in the US a decade ago, e-cigarettes have stirred intense debate over whether the devices provide smokers of traditional cigarettes a safer alternative or serve as a gateway to other tobacco products, particularly for young users.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration and a congressional committee are investigating various health and commerce issues associated with the rapid and ill-regulated growth of vaping products - particularly Juul, which represents three-quarters of the American market and has expanded sales to more than a dozen other countries in the past year.
Leigh Hewerdine, head of trading at Applegreen, said the Irish publicly listed company was "pleased to add another innovative product to our offering. If as a business we can help adult smokers make the switch to a more positive lifestyle choice, then we are delighted to support our customers with this".
But Juul conceded that criticisms of strong youth uptake of e-cigarettes needed to be addressed by restricting sales in Ireland.
Gareth Smyth, general manager of Juul in Ireland, said it and partner retailers including Applegreen were committed to enforcing a "Challenge 25" policy that, much like the sale of alcohol, will see cashiers seek official ID for any purchasers of e-cigarettes who look younger than 25.
"Our aim is to be available in as many outlets that sell cigarettes as possible - as long as they adhere to our 'Challenge 25' policy - to help adult smokers make the switch from cigarettes," said Mr Smyth, who said he supports a legislative ban on sales to under-18s.