I doubt there’s much the CEO could have done to anticipate the sudden outcry (unless they knew about these health issues already) but I guess this gives the company a chance to claim that they’re dramatically changing their strategy. E.g.
Crosthwaite said he has “long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products” like Juul but acknowledged “that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry.”
The pause on advertising probably reflects the complaints about how popular Juul is with teenagers. But they might also be anticipating being banned from advertising the product if the outcry continues and they carry on, as it’d be a quick win for the regulator.
This couldn’t have come at a worse time for them, just as they were midway through negotiating merger talks. Although I can’t say I feel a lot of sympathy for them.