On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to remove Juul e-cigarettes from the U.S. market. Banning Juul would put the business in serious jeopardy. Juul was on track to make 94% of its revenue this year.

At its 2019 peak, Juul generated annual sales of $2 billion. By 2021, sales had dropped to $1.3 billion. Juul has pulled out of more than a dozen countries and stopped selling fruit- and candy-flavored e-cigarettes in the U.S.

The share-price reaction reflects worries that Altria will be back at square one with its smoke-free strategy. The company still makes almost 90% of its revenue from combustible cigarettes. Other than its Juul stake, Altria doesn’t own a large-scale e-cigarette or heated tobacco brand.

Altria's former subsidiary Philip Morris International is about to become a direct competitor in the U.S. If its $16 billion offer for Swedish Match is approved, Juul will become the company's direct competitor. The question is what Altria does next. After seeing nearly $13 billion vaporized, it needs a smokeless fix.
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