Puff Bar CEOs on the company behind the popular e-cigarette brand: "There was a lot of shadowiness before"

Puff Bar CEOs on the company behind the popular e-cigarette brand: “There was a lot of shadowiness before”

Little is understood about the company behind the most popular e-cigarette model amongst highschool and center schoolers.

For 2 years, Puff Bar has been working in the shadows. It listed its mailing tackle first to a shuttered storefront on skid row in Los Angeles and extra just lately to a P.O. field.  

Puff Bar has teased the thriller of all of it on its personal web site. Final yr, the web site learn “Who Makes Puff Bar? Everyone wants to know.”

Nick Minas and Patrick Beltran, two of the businessmen behind Puff Bar, sat down with “CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil for his or her first tv interview about the company, performed with their lawyer simply off-camera

Minas and Beltran, each 27, are childhood mates from Southern California who stated they’re now the sole house owners and co-CEOs of Puff Bar. Beltran stated they needed to talk out to “build trust” with their shoppers.  

“We’re aware that there is a lot of mystery and there was a lot of shadowiness before. Us being here right now, talking with you guys [CBS News] is our first step in kind of really, like, building the trust with our consumers,” he stated.

The marketplace for Puff Bar exploded in early 2020 after the FDA banned sweet and fruit-flavored e-cigarettes, like Juul, citing their reputation amongst teenagers.  

However at the similar time, the FDA left single-use units like Puff Bar, and all its flavors on the market as a result of they weren’t but popular.

“It kind of looks like a Juul device and, you know, it has flavors and it tastes good, it’s easy, it’s disposable,” Beltran stated. “So I think it was just very appealing to the mass consumer market as the next step past what a Juul device is.”

Gross sales jumped from $14,000 to $3 million a week. Beltran and Minas posted lavish objects on social media together with a new dwelling, fancy meals and two Lamborghinis.

However the duo stated Puff Bar was not their invention and claimed that a Chinese language manufacture “put this brand package together.”

“I would say the brand was founded with the collaboration of U.S. personnel giving the input,” stated Beltran.

In 2020, the FDA ordered Puff Bar off the market amid lawsuits and a widening public outcry.  

4 states have banned the product. It additionally faces a probe in the Home of Representatives and lawsuits in not less than three states. This week, North Carolina’s legal professional common launched an investigation.  

Beltran and Minas stated they took over the company round the center of 2020 — first the web site and finally the total model.

“The original co-founding partners decided that they didn’t want to continue the brand in the direction that we saw most fit. And that’s where we kind of came into control,” Minas stated.

Each Minas and Beltran wouldn’t disclose who the prior companions have been. Additionally they stated that the quantity of cash it price to purchase the Puff Bar and its trademark was “confidential” and is a half of a non-disclosure settlement.

Puff Bar or one thing that appears like Puff Bar are simple to seek out as of late even in locations like New York, the place flavored vapes have been banned beneath state legislation.

Nielsen reviews that retailer gross sales of Puff Bar in the United States topped $150 million final fiscal yr, however Minas and Beltran stated that nearly none of it’s theirs.  

When confirmed 4 Puff Bar branded e-cigarettes, Minas and Beltran stated all 4 have been counterfeits.  

“The imagery that’s used on the front was not similar to, it’s not even similar to the imagery that we originally had put on the packaging or that was originally on the packaging,” Beltran stated.  

“Also flavors we’ve never made,” added Minas. One of these flavors was strawberry banana which Minas stated they by no means made in these machine sorts.

The 2 stated that the actual Puff Bar was off the marketplace for months and was solely re-released earlier this yr. It was reformulated with what they stated is a artificial nicotine, permitting them to keep away from FDA regulation as a tobacco product.

“So, your revenue was essentially zero dollars from June 2020 to February of this year?” Dokoupil requested.

“Yes, that’s correct,” Beltran responded.

“So why should we believe you, I guess is the question? You’re driving around in Lamborghinis,” stated Dokoupil.  

“We have other investment sources that we had put our money into. I mean that’s not to say that we didn’t make any money from Puff. I mean, I think that’d be ignorant to think that we didn’t make any money from the brand itself,” Beltran stated.

He added that counterfeits are “undermining” what they’re doing from an “internal company perspective.”

“We have new devices, completely different you know, verification system. All that would undermine that all of that back-dooring,” Beltran stated.  

When requested in the event that they acquired any backdoor funds from counterfeits promoting Puff Bar, the two each stated “No.”

They each agree that underage use of Puff Bar is a downside.  

“I think it’s horrible,” stated Beltran.  

“I guess I’m sorry to hear that… You know, and it’s nothing that we would want,” added Minas.  

However they each stated that the authorities must do extra to handle this downside.

“I think the governments need to do a better job on going after retailers and the distribution channels that are actually pushing these products out there,” Beltran stated.

Puff Bar nonetheless sells fruit flavors and teenagers report utilizing the model over Juul by 5 to 1.

“Why continue to sell flavors? Banana Ice and Cool Mint and…” Dokoupil requested.

“I believe adults love flavors. I mean when you go out to a bar and people order drinks, are they always ordering just whiskey straight up, vodka straight up, tequila straight up? No. They get it margaritas which has, like, lime and lemon, and  I think people enjoy our products with flavors, the same way they do with any other type of products,” Beltran stated.  

CBS Information requested the FDA for an interview about Puff Bar. They declined and stated in a assertion they’re “aware that companies have publicly announced strategies to switch to synthetic nicotine in an attempt to evade FDA jurisdiction.” They stated they’re “investigating this issue.” 

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