Juul – The Reigning Champ of Nicotine Vaporizers
Electronic cigarettes, also commonly known as “e-cigs” or “vapes,” have become widely popular among people of all age groups in recent years – especially high school and college students. However, when it comes to popularity, one brand, in particular, reigns supreme. If Budweiser is the king of beers, JUUL is the king of nicotine vaporizers.
When it comes to vaping, Americans have spoken: JUUL is cool. (It’s pronounced “jewel,” by the way. Word on the street is that the acronym stands for “JUice USB Lighting.”) As the country’s top-selling e-cig, the company continues to dominate the electronic cigarette industry, obtaining 55 percent of the market share in just two years, according to Forbes.
Keep in mind that this particular vape product has only been available for sale in the U.S. since 2015, grossing $224 million in retail sales its first year. Thus far, there is no indication profits will decline any time soon either. The brand continues to skyrocket with sales consistently increasing up by as much as 621 percent every year since its inception. This begs the question, what makes JUUL so special?
With all the hype surrounding JUUL – and the many positive testimonials the company has received – we thought you might like to hear the inside scoop about this nicotine vaping product. Somewhere along the way, it seems, the whole truth has gone up in smoke (or disappeared like vape…..whatever!)
What is JUUL, Anyway?
Despite its growing popularity, many people have never heard of this particular product. This is especially true of parents and educators who are not up to speed when it comes to the latest innovations in nicotine vaping technology. Educating the public about this brand is important because many suggest that teens and young adults are the ones lining the pockets of those who manufacturer JUUL products.
When it comes to vaping (which, for your information, is known as “JUULing” for those who love this brand), the concept behind JUUL is nothing new – although the company markets itself as an alternative to vape. Like other similar products, the device has an internal heating element that warms liquid nicotine and then produces vapors using aerosol that can be inhaled and exhaled.
The vapors mimic smoke, creating an experience that is very much like smoking a combustible cigarette. JUUL consists of a patented juice cocktail concentrate comprised of salts and organic acids found in tobacco leaves. This cocktail makes for a quick delivery of nicotine into the bloodstream.
(By the way, did you know that since the advent of e-cigs, regular cigarettes are now commonly referred to as “combustible cigarettes” or “combustible tobacco products?” This distinction must now be made to differentiate between combustible (smokable) and electronic (vaporized) cigs. Just an interesting trivia fact for you!)
JUUL Labs Was Invented With Noble Intentions – Or At Least It Seems That Way
There is actually a pretty cool story behind the development of this nicotine vape product. It does appear as if the company was founded on the good intentions of two ambitious college students who sought to create a nonsmoking world where people could enjoy a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes.
In 2007, then Stanford students (now graduates) James Monsees and Adam Bowen created the JUUL product together as part of their thesis assignment, which reportedly tasked them with a product development project. When they realized they had a winning design, they co-founded a San Francisco-based startup company called Ploom, which later became Pax Labs. Monsees and Bowen ultimately sold Pax Labs and created JUUL Labs, of which Monsees is now the CEO and Bowen the chief technology officer.
On their website, Monsees and Bowen say, “JUUL Labs was founded with the goal of improving the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by providing them with an easy to use vapor alternative to combustible cigarettes, containing a similar level of nicotine to make switching as easy as possible. We envision a world where fewer people use cigarettes, and where people who smoke cigarettes have the tools to reduce or eliminate their consumption entirely, should they so desire.”
What Makes The JUUL Product So Unique and Attractive To Nicotine Users?
A JUUL is a hand-held vaping device unlike any e-cig or vape product currently available on the market. It is fits in the palm of your hand and looks just like a USB flash drive. In fact, if you had never seen one of these thingamabobs before, you would swear it was a USB flash drive.
Most vapes have a square base and users puff on a metal mouthpiece that kind of looks like that of a marijuana pipe. They are clunky and awkward-looking apparatuses. Others resemble pens or actual cigarettes. Not JUUL. It has a sleek and modern look, which is very appealing to those who buy it. It almost looks like some futuristic doodad straight out of a “Mission Impossible” movie. People who use this brand say they feel chic and glamorous when they’re JUULing.
A JUUL is an electronic device so it must be recharged for it to work. It holds a battery charge for about a day and comes with a USB charger that can connect to any computer. It only takes about an hour to charge.
How JUUL Sets Itself Apart From Competing Vape Products
Unlike every other vape product on the market, there is no oil used with JUULing. Instead, “JUULers” use refillable flavor cartridges called JUULPods that pop on and off the end of the device. They come in many different flavors: including mango, cool mint, menthol, Virginia tobacco, crème brulee, and fruit medley. Users simply remove, discard, and replace the Pods once the nicotine has been completely vaped. The company produces some 20 million Pods per month, but it has struggled to keep up with demand.
One JUULPod reportedly has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of combustible cigarettes. The thing is, most people do not continually puff on their JUUL like they would if they were smoking a combustible cigarette. They may take a few puffs and then set it down, using it again when they feel a nicotine craving. This makes the Pods last longer than a 20-count cigarette pack. There are about 200 hundred puffs in a Pod.
Also, this product features a temperature regulation system designed to ensure consistent delivery. This means that whether a user inhales in short puffs or takes a deep draw into the lungs, the vapor is always at the ideal temperature.
Most other vape products don’t have this kind of technology and require the user to take deep puffs to activate the heating system. Plus, there have been numerous accounts of vape devices exploding or catching fire in the face of users. JUUL supposedly offers a solution to this problem.
Be Advised: This Product is Highly Addictive
Despite its “super cool” appearance, JUUL is a kind of devil in disguise. It contains higher amounts of nicotine than most vaping products and it is very habit forming. People think they are less likely to get hooked on nicotine from JUULing than they would if they were using combustible tobacco products, but that is simply not the case. Nicotine is nicotine – no matter how you ingest it.
According to the American Lung Association, “Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to quit. Withdrawal from nicotine can mean irritability, craving, depression, anxiety, cognitive and attention deficits, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite.”
For this reason, many people remain hopelessly hooked on nicotine for years and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to support their habit. Giving up cigarettes in favor of JUULing is merely switching one habit for another. While it may be difficult for you to equate a nicotine addiction to being hooked on heroin, ask most smokers and they’ll tell you. They desperately want to quit, but they are powerless over their addiction.
Why People Love JUULing
People use this product for different reasons.
Many people JUUL because they make the switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping and say they prefer the brand to the others currently available on the market. There are quite literally hundreds (maybe even thousands) of different vape devices and flavors for sale. Former smokers say this product mimics the experience of inhaling smoke like no other vaporizer out there.
Others have been using a different kind of vape and they start using this brand instead because they like the packaging – which doesn’t require them to use flavored oils (which leads to spills). JUULPods make it quick and easy to replace flavor cartridges. Also, some say the flavors offered by the company are superior to all others.
Some start JUULing outright without ever having been a smoker or vape user previously. Unfortunately, reports indicate that many of these JUULers are underage teens or college students who have never struggled with a nicotine addiction before.
JUULing Definitely Offers Benefits To Current Smokers
Smoking cigarettes is one of the worst addictions. JUUL offers an alternative. To date, over one million JUUL systems have been sold worldwide. It is available at more than 12,000 convenience stores across the United States, as well as online.
There are some obvious reasons why people switch from cigarettes to this particular vape product.
- For one, they believe it is a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes (we’ll talk more about whether this is actually true in a little while). Many choose to JUUL as a way to “step down” from smoking cigarettes on their way to stopping nicotine use together. It breaks them of the habit of inhaling actual smoke and having a cigarette in their hand.
- Also, using a vape product is much cleaner than smoking nasty, stinky cigarettes. There is no lingering smoke smell because the vapor produced is essentially odorless (or has a sweet smell). Plus, there are no ashes, butts, or ashtrays to deal with. This neater approach to using nicotine is attractive to many smokers. It is not uncommon for smokers to get fed up with the many negative accompaniments that arise from combustible tobacco products.
- Finally, JUULing is much less expensive than smoking traditional cigarettes. The vaporizer itself retails for around $35 and a four-pack of JUULPods costs $16. With combustible cigarettes ringing up at the register for as much as $8.50 a pack in some states, there is definitely a positive incentive for using this vape brand over a pack of Marlboros. Remember that each Pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, costs $4 and usually lasts longer. You do the math.
The Downside: JUUL is Popular With Teenagers
Parents beware: this brand is a favorite among teens. High school and middle school students say they use it because it is not easily detectable by adults and it’s trendy.
As previously mentioned, a JUUL looks like a USB flash drive. If a parent or teacher comes across it, they may not know that they are looking at a nicotine vape. Many teen students actually admit to JUULing in class when the teacher is not looking, doing it in the hallways or bathrooms, and using it during extra-curricular activities.
Believe it or not, the 13 to 17-year old age group is especially vulnerable to getting hooked on JUULing. It’s a way to rebel against authority and teens think it makes them look cool. Plus, they are naïve about the dangers of addictive nicotine.
The Company Swears It Does Not Want Minors Buying Their Products
To thwart minors under 21 from buying JUUL products, the company requires age verification using public records, credit-card information, and a government I.D. The site reportedly turns away more than 25 percent of all potential buyers because they are not of age. Nevertheless, kids can easily get around this by lying about their age, showing a fake ID and using a prepaid card to make a purchase. (Or, they can buy the product on eBay or through Craigslist).
According to a statement on their website, JUUL Labs says, “We want to be part of the solution to end combustible smoking, not part of the problem to attract youth, never smokers, or former smokers to nicotine products. We invest our time and resources in new ways to deliver JUUL exclusively to adult smokers, and we welcome discussion on this topic.”
The company also says they support reasonable regulation of nicotine products and comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
“We share public health concerns about cigarettes; in fact, they constitute our company’s mission. We did not create JUUL to undermine years of effective tobacco control, and we do not want to see a new generation of smokers. We believe JUUL can accelerate cigarette displacement.”
The FDA Has Targeted JUUL
In April 2018, the Food and Drug Administration announced a national undercover “blitz” designed to crackdown on the sale of e-cigs and vape products to teens. JUUL was at the top of the list of brands targeted.
“The illegal sale of these JUUL products to minors is concerning. In fact, just since the beginning of March, FDA compliance checks have uncovered 40 violations for illegal sales of JUUL products to youth,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
He continued, “The FDA has issued 40 warning letters for those violations. This includes warning letters that are the result of the blitz. Others are a result of our sustained enforcement efforts to reduce tobacco product sales to minors. And we anticipate taking many more similar actions as a result of the ongoing blitz and our focus on enforcement related to youth access. Let me be clear to retailers. This blitz, and resulting actions, should serve as notice that we will not tolerate the sale of any tobacco products to youth.”
The FDA followed up with JUUL Labs, asking them to explain why its product is so appealing to young people.
The company responded in a public statement that “sales to minors were unacceptable” and noted that it already has “programs to prevent and, if necessary, identify and act upon these violations at retail and online marketplaces.” JUUL Labs promised to work with the FDA and policymakers to keep its product out of the hands of young people.
In Regard To E-Cigs, FDA Regulations May Change
Many people don’t know this, but the FDA has regulated cigarettes, tobacco, and smokeless tobacco products since June 2009 after the federal government signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into action. This gave the agency the authority to regulate the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of all tobacco products.
In August 2016, the FDA made changes to this act and finalized a new rule that allowed the agency to also regulate e-cigs and vape products. Before this rule, there was no federal law that could prevent retailers from selling products like JUUL to minors. According to the FDA, the use of e-cigs among high school students has shot up from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015, which represents a more than 900 percent increase. This 2016 ruling gives the agency an opportunity to restrict teens’ access to tobacco products.
However; a wave of lawsuits filed by vape manufacturers in a number of states claim that this rule is unconstitutional. Since vaping oils and devices only use nicotine – and not tobacco – these companies say the FDA has not right to regulate these types of products. If the suing parties win the lawsuit, the FDA would have to reverse its rule and would have no jurisdiction to prevent the sale of products like JUUL to minors.
Once and For All – Is JUULing Really Safer Than Smoking Combustible Cigarettes?
For those looking for a substitute to traditional cigarettes, many believe vaping is the way to go. There seems to be an automatic assumption that because vape devices produce smokeless access to nicotine, (thereby eliminating the consumption of tar) they must be safer. The truth is, we don’t know if this is true. No one does – not even the leading researchers who have conducted in-depth studies about e-cigs.
For example, a recent new report conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released some useful information about vaping.
Dean and Vice Provost of the Graduate School of the University of Washington-Seattle David Eaton chaired a committee that wrote the report, entitled “Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes.” His team reviewed approximately 5,000 studies and narrowed down their analysis to include findings from more than 800 papers. His overall assessment? “E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful.”
However, Eaton said that in certain circumstances (like when teens use them and become addicted to nicotine) the adverse effects of e-cigs “clearly warrant concern.” But in other cases (like when adult smokers use e-cigs to quit smoking combustible cigarettes), “they offer an opportunity to reduce smoking-related illness.”
The Findings From Eaton’s Report
We found the lack of definitive data from Eaton’s report a little frustrating. Surely, we thought, the committee could take a stand one way or another – are e-cigs a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes or not? However, we have to accept that the information is simply not yet available to determine whether brands like JUUL can cause harm to the body.
This is not due to lack of Eaton and his colleague’s due diligence, of course. This is simply because time has not yet been allowed a voice to speak to us on the matter. Keep in mind that vape products have only been on the market for 10 years. Americans smoked cigarettes for more than 50 years before anyone knew they caused lung cancer!
“Given their relatively recent introduction, there has been little time for a scientific body of evidence to develop on the health effects of e-cigarettes,” Eaton and his committee wrote in their report.
Nevertheless, the University of Washington-Seattle’s research did provide some useful information about vaping we thought you would be interested in. Here are some of the key findings:
- There is substantial evidence that young people who use vape products are at a much higher risk for using combustible cigarettes than young people who don’t use vape products.
- Exposure to nicotine from vaping varies on the device and the liquid used. This means there is no real way for users to determine how much nicotine is being delivered into the bloodstream when they use a vape. (This includes JUUL).
- With exception to nicotine, there is less exposure to potentially toxic substances in e-cigs or vape products when compared to traditional cigarettes.
- Vaping will result in symptoms of nicotine dependence, but the risk and severity of this dependence is lower for e-cigs and vapes than combustible cigarettes.
- Using vape products instead of regular cigarettes will greatly reduce a user’s exposure to the many toxins and cancer-causing agents found in conventional cigarettes.
- Completely switching from combustible cigarettes to e-cigs reduces short-term negative health effects in organs like the lungs and heart.
- There is limited evidence in animal studies that suggests that using vape devices long-term could potentially increase the risk of cancer.
- Although there is moderate evidence available that suggests teens who use e-cigs could experience increased coughing, wheezing, and worsened asthma symptoms; there is no available evidence to determine whether or not they actually cause respiratory disease.
- There is currently no evidence available to determine whether or not vaping affects pregnancy or fetal development.
- While there is conclusive evidence that vaping increases airborne concentrations of certain pollutants and nicotine when used indoors, second-hand exposure to nicotine and pollutants is lower with e-cigarettes than combustible cigarettes.
- There is conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes can explode and cause serious injury (although JUUL Labs claims its patented heating device greatly reduces this likelihood).
- Exposure to liquids used to fill vapes can likely cause seizures, brain injury, and vomiting. (Remember, though, that JUULPods do not use liquid like the typical vape device).
Despite these findings, the question of whether JUULPods are a safe alternative to combustible cigarettes remains unanswered. In other words – like so many other things in life – only time will tell.
One Thing is For Sure – Nicotine By Itself Does Not Cause Cancer
While this report was generally inconclusive about approaching JUULing or vaping as a completely safe alternative to cigarettes, here’s what we know for sure: nicotine by itself does not cause cancer. Also, vape devices do not burn tobacco leaves, which releases dozens of carcinogens (or cancer-causing agents) into the lungs. Combustible cigarettes do.
Tobacco and resulting tar irritate the lungs and damage the heart. For this reason, most medical experts say that combustible cigarette smokers who make the switch to vape generally experience improved lung function, lowered blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, and a decreased risk of pneumonia.
So, while clinical researchers may not yet be able to prove that e-cigs are completely harmless, we do know that vaping does seem (at first glance) to eliminate at least some of the risks involved with smoking traditional cigarettes. It is perhaps this lowered risk that has pushed American smokers everywhere toward JUULing.
JUUL’s Popularity May Have Contributed to a Decline in Cigarette Sales
Despite the controversy surrounding teens, JUULing, and the FDA, in the last several years combustible cigarette sales have plummeted across the country. In fact, they have declined to their lowest point ever.
In 2017, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Preventions reported that the adult smoking rate hit 14.1 percent the first nine months of 2017, down from a rate of 15.8 percent in 2016. Many market experts are attributing this decrease to the increased popularity of JUUL.
Some suggest JUUL could potentially have the power to create a national atmosphere of nonsmoking in favor of vaping. This is definitely a plus when it comes to the potential for improved health among American nicotine users. It will also make the country smell a lot better – what with fewer ashtrays, cigarette butts, and tobacco breath!
Whether You Like It Or Not, Vaping Is Probably Here to Stay
Many nonsmokers find vaping just as offensive as combustible cigarettes. There are many public places across the United States that allow vaping indoors, which raises objections among those who would prefer to see nicotine wiped off the face of the planet altogether. It also poses a threat to underage smokers.
Nevertheless, if the current booming vape sales are any indication, it is safe to say that brands like JUUL and their competitors aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
Are you a smoker? Ready to quit? Here are some helpful techniques.