Maria Montero

How Juul went viral to vaping to become a dirty $ …

A Juul is not a cigarette. It is much easier than that. Through the devilishly slick product design I’ll discuss here, the startup has vastly lowered the barrier to hooking on nicotine. Juul has dismantled all impediments to take a puff.

The result is as much a new valuation of $ 38 billion thanks to a $ 12.8 billion investment from Altria, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, as this week, and an explosion in the popularity of vaping among teens and beyond. of the population. The game recognizes the game, and Altria’s game is nicotine addiction. It knows it has been enhanced by Juul’s tactics, so it has covered its own success by handing the startup one-tenth of the public corporation’s market capitalization in cash.

Juul argues that it can help people switch from obviously dangerous sSmoking to vaping supposedly healthier. But in reality, the little aluminum device helps people switch from nothing to vaping … which may cause some to actually start smoking. One study found that it causes more people to buy cigarettes rather than quit.

Photographer: Gabby Jones / Bloomberg via Getty Images

How fast has Juul swept the nation? Nielsen says it controls 75 percent of the US e-cigarette market, up from 27 percent in September last year. In the year since then the CDC says that the percentage of high school students who have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days has risen 75 percent. That’s 3 million teens or roughly 20 percent of all high school students. CNBC reports that Juul 2018 revenue could be around $ 1.5 billion.

Health consequences aside, Juul makes it radically easy to become addicted for life. Parents, regulators, and potential vapers need to understand why Juul works so well if they have any hope of suppressing its temptations.

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It is difficult to try a cigarette for the first time. Heat and smoke burn your throat. The taste is harsh and overwhelming. The smell covers your fingers and your clothes, marking you as a smoker. There’s pressure to smoke a whole one so you don’t waste the tobacco. Even if you want to try a friend’s, they have to turn one on first. And unlike big box vaporizers where you customize the temperature and e-juice, Juul doesn’t make you look like a hardcore vapelord.

Juul is much softer on your throat. The flavor is milder and can be masked with flavors. Steam doesn’t stain you with such a quick smell. You can try a single puff from a friend at a bar or during a smoke break with no pressure to inhale more. The sleek, understated form factor doesn’t mark you as a serious vape user. It is casual. However, the public gesture and the clouds that people exhale are still striking enough to trigger the questions: “What is that? Can I try?” There is another article to write about how the memes of Juul and Instagram Stories that captivated nicotine dispensers contributed to the spread of the device.

And perhaps most insidiously, vaping seems healthier. A lifetime of anti-smoking notices and warning labels pierced the dangers in our heads. But how much damage could a little steam do?

A friend who had never smoked tells me that they now burn through a full Juul pod. Someone made him try a single puff at a nightclub. Soon he was asking for strangers’ Juuls to crawl. Then he bought one and never looked back. He had been around cigarettes at parties his entire life, but he never got into them. Juul made it effortless to resist.

Concealable

Lighting a cigarette is a garish activity prohibited in many places. Not so with a discreet sip of a Juul.

Cigarettes are often not allowed inside. Hiding is not an easy task and it can get you kicked out. You need to have a lighter and play with fire to start one. They can get squashed or wet in your pocket. The burning tip makes them unruly in tight spaces, and the cocoon or falling ash can damage clothing and make a mess. You smoke a cigarette because you really want to smoke a cigarette.

Public establishments are still figuring out how to handle Juuls and other vaporizers. Many places that prohibit smoking do not explicitly do the same for vaping. Less stinky vapor and more discreet movement make it easy to hide. Beyond airplanes, you could probably go dumb and say you didn’t know the rules if you got caught. The metal stick is difficult to break. You’re not going to scorch anyone. There is no clutter, need for an ashtray, or holes in your jackets or sofas.

As long as the battery is charged, there is no need for additional equipment and you will not attract attention with a lighter. Battery life is a major concern for heavy Juulers that smokers don’t care about, but I know people who now carry a giant portable charger just to keep their Juul alive. But there is also a network effect that is developing. As with iPhone cables, Juuls are becoming common enough that you can often borrow a battery or charger from another user.