A woman holds a Juul e-cigarette while walking in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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June 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to order Juul Labs Inc to take its e-cigarettes off the market in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares in tobacco giant Altria Group Inc (MO.N), which owns a 35% stake in Juul, were down 8% in morning trading after the report saying the agency’s decision could arrive as early as Wednesday.

The verdict would come around two years after the vaping products maker applied for approval to keep selling e-cigarettes in the country, trying to prove that the products offered a net benefit to public health.

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The FDA’s review will decide whether they are effective in getting smokers to quit and, if so, whether the benefits to smokers outweigh the health damage to new users, including teenagers, who never smoked.

In October, the FDA allowed Juul rival British American Tobacco Plc (BATS.L) to market its Vuse Solo e-cigarettes and tobacco-flavored pods, making it the first-ever vapor product to get clearance from the health regulator. read more

Some experts, including brokerage Jefferies, at one point had expected Juul to get the FDA nod as well.

Altria and the FDA did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

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Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Devika Syamnath

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