The Juul vape starter kit was released three years ago, the vape device resembles a USB flash drive. Recently a lot more socially acceptable, even cool, “to Juul” than to smoke traditional analog cigarettes.
No device right now is as worrisome as the JUUL vape — because of its popularity and the unusually heavy dose of nicotine salts it delivers. In 2017, the e-cigarette market expanded by 40 percent, to $1.16 billion, with a lot of that growth driven by Juul vape starter kit.
Dollar share percentage of the e-cigarette traditional retail market,as of March 2018
Source: Nielsen Total US xAOC/Convenience Database and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC
As of March, 2018, the Juul starter kit made up more than half of all e-cigarette retail market sales in the US, according to Nielsen data. Considering it has only been on the market since 2015, and there are hundreds of other devices available to consumers, Juul’s market share is staggering.
While the long-term health impacts of vaping are still unknown, doctors and public health officials also worry about a range of immediate harmful side effects of nicotine on young people’s developing brains and bodies.
The “nicotine in these products can rewire an adolescent’s brain, leading to years of addiction,” said Scott Gottlieb, the head of the Food and Drug Administration. There’s also strong evidence that vaping may encourage young people to try cigarettes.
That’s why Gottlieb announced on April 24 that the agency is cracking down on Juul and other e-cigarette companies like it, which appear to be selling and marketing their products to youth. The agency is going after retailers that illegally sell these products to minors, and they’ve asked Juul’s makers, Juul Labs, to submit paperwork about their marketing practices and health impact.
But the FDA, under Gottlieb, also delayed the compliance deadline for the regulation of e-cigarettes until 2022. This gave e-cigarette manufacturers who had products on the market before 2016, including Juul Labs, a free pass when it came to filing public health and marketing applications before selling direct to consumers and vapor shops in the US.
“In this world, a delay of [five] years is a lifetime,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “And the data seems to indicate this product is being used by kids all across the country.”
So what can and should be done about e-cigarettes like Juul, a growing market that Myers calls the “Wild West”? Let’s break it down.
“You can essentially Juul wherever without drawing much attention”
E-cigarette sales have exploded over the past decade — and the devices have slowly been embraced by many in the public health community for their potential as a harm reduction tool to help smokers quit.
Juul’s stated mission is “improving the lives of the one billion adult smokers.” Created by two former smokers and Stanford design graduates (one of whom also worked as a design engineer at Apple), the duo wanted to make a device that looked sleek and attractive:
When they could find no attractive alternative to traditional cigarettes, [James Monsees and Adam Bowen] recognized a groundbreaking opportunity to apply industrial design to the smoking industry, which had not materially evolved in over one hundred years.
They designed an e-cigarette device that could easily be mistaken for a USB flash drive — and can fit in the palm of the hand.
The Juul has two components: the vape device, which holds the battery and temperature regulation system; and the “juul pod,” which contains nicotine salt — made up of nicotine, glycerol and propylene glycol, benzoic acid, and flavorants — and is inserted into the end of the Juul e-cigarette device. Pods come in a variety of colors and flavors, from cucumber mint to creme brûlée, mango, and tobacco. Juul’s “vape starter kit,” the e-cigarette, USB charger, and one flavor pods, sells for $49.99, and is available on West Coast Vape Supply.
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