(CN) – Amid a leadership shakeup and pressure from federal, state and local lawmakers, e-cigarette maker Juul has pulled funding from a ballot initiative aimed at overturning San Francisco’s vaping ban.
Juul had led the effort to pass Measure C, an initiative aimed at repealing sales restrictions of e-cigarettes within San Francisco city limits. The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the restrictions this year.
Campaign finance disclosures show the company poured approximately $18 million into the Measure C effort before abandoning it this week.
The company issued a statement late Monday saying it has undertaken a broad review of all its policies in order to “responsibly lead the industry.”
“As we continue that review, the company announced it will cease active support of Prop C in San Francisco,” the company said.
Juul and other e-cigarette manufacturers have been blamed for a rash of lung illnesses that have put hundreds of people in hospitals after vaping. On Monday, health officials announced the death toll from the lung illnesses had risen to 14 nationwide.
E-cigarettes have also been blamed for an increase in youth vaping after years of significant decreases in teenage smoking rates.
Proponents of e-cigarettes say they are much healthier than tobacco, with far less chemicals, but the long-term health effects of vaping remain poorly understood.
Last week, Juul CEO Kevin Burns stepped down amid the furor, replaced by long-time tobacco industry insider K.C. Crosthwaite. Crosthwait immediately struck a more conciliatory note, promising to work with lawmakers and community members across the country.
“We must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate,” Crosthwaite said. “That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.”
Juul is headquartered in San Francisco, something Crosthwaite noted in Monday’s statement.
“We remain committed to the city,” he said.