But the news delivers a significant blow to Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris and the maker of Marlboro, which in December 2018 bought 35 percent of Juul for $12.8 billion.
Altria made the investment to counteract slowing tobacco sales, while Juul looked to Altria as an ally to help it navigate increased regulatory scrutiny.
Neither of those strategies appear to have worked out.
Altria has written down the value of its investment in Juul by more than $11 billion, to $1.7 billion. Altria, which gets about 90 percent of its revenue from smokable products, saw revenue fall slightly last year. Its stock is down more than 40 percent over the past five years, and 20 percent just in the past month. Juul, for its part, saw its revenue fall to $1.3 billion in 2021, from $2 billion in 2019, with about 95 percent in U.S. sales.
“We are disappointed with today’s decision and continue to believe that e-vapor can play an important role in harm reduction for adult smokers,” Altria said in a statement.
At its peak, Juul had more than 4,000 employees. It now has slightly over 1,000, mostly in the United States, but with some in Canada, Britain and other countries.
E-cigarettes have been sold on the U.S. market for more than a decade without formal F.D.A. authorization, because they did not fall under the agency’s regulatory purview for several years.