Juul was designed to help adult smokers quit,
but it got young people hooked instead.
The device was so popular it became a verb: juuling.
Juuling, named after this brand of vape pen.
At its peak, the company dominated over 70% of the US e-cigarette market.
Juul has said a number of times that
there’s never their intention to addict a new generation of users.
But the truth of the matter is they did.
But in just three years,
its value plunged from 38 billion dollars to under 5 billion dollars.
Now the company is awaiting FDA authorization
while facing multimillion-dollar lawsuits
for its role in fuelling the youth vaping epidemic.
So what does the future of e-cigarettes hold?
And will Juul have a place in it?
E-cigarettes had been around since the mid-2000s.
but none had ever taken off like Juul
The company launched out of PAX Labs in 2015,
and revolutionized the tobacco industry with its cutting-edge design.
I think it was the perfect storm you know,
the product was a high-tech device.
It looked like a flash drive that kids were charging under their parents’ nose.
Co-founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees
were hoping to create a satisfying alternative to cigarettes
for adult smokers who wanted to quit.
The ads painted in different picture,
although Juul has repeatedly denied their marketing to teens.
Juul’s flavors were fun, too.
Pods came in mango, fruit medley, cucumber, mint and creme brulee.
烟弹里有芒果味 混合水果味 黄瓜味 薄荷味和焦糖布丁味
At the time, the U.S. was seeing a historic decline
in cigarette smoking rates among youth,
which had hit a new low of 10.8%.
The kids were tricked. They didn’t understand that it was incredibly addictive nicotine,
it wasn’t the nicotine of the cigarettes of the past.
Marketers organized events and hired social media influencers to post themselves Julling.
Soon, users began to share their own content on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter,
很快 用户开始在Ins Snapchat和Twitter上父母看不到的地方
where parents weren’t looking.
Within two years on the market, Juul’s popularity skyrocketed.
In 2016, the company made up less than 5% of the e-cig market.
But by the end of 2017, Juul controlled nearly a third of it,
and generated 224 million dollars in revenue.
I think there’s something like a 600 percent spike in sales,
which is crazy. It’s an astronomical rise.
The number of devices sold jumped from 2.2 million
to 16.2 million within a year.
But Juul’s early packaging failed to highlight
that pods contain high amounts of nicotine,
and extremely addictive substance.
There wasn’t a warning label on the box like there is now.
It had a 5% and a 3%.
My own son said, “5% of what?”
You know, no one knew what 5% nicotine meant.
Just one 5% Juul pod has as much nicotine
as a pack of standard cig arettes.
Because of the formulation,
it can be used pretty much all the time.
And not only all the time,
but you like it better.
I just was going in on it
like, I mean there is not much nicotine in it,
so what’s it gonna do to me?
Elizabeth Burgess was 15
在2016年 Elizabeth Burgess
when she started vaping in 2016.
And would go through one juul pod in roughly two days.
All we knew is that cigarettes could kill you
and that this is supposed to be safer than them.
an estimated 1.73 million high schoolers were vaping,
compared to just over a million who were smoking cigarettes.
With its new found success,
Juul decided to part ways with PAX Labs
and became an independent company.
In some high schools,
Julling in the bathroom was such a phenomenon
that administrators emailed parents to warn them about the dangers of vaping.
I mean it was just all every day, all the time,
我意思是 每天都这样 每时每刻都这样
like you just meet people in the bathroom to get a hit.
For years, Juul and other e-cigarettes
were marketed and sold without intervention by the FDA.
But the company eventually became impossible to ignore.
In 2018, medical and public health groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics
sued the FDA over its lack of action against e-cigarettes.
A federal judge later ruled
that the agency did act illegally by allowing those products
to remain on the market unchecked until 2022.
Meanwhile, Juul was telling a different story.
A Juul’s representative came into our son’s school
and told the kids that Juul was totally safe
and about to get FDA approval,
neither of which were true.
When asked to respond to this,
Juul declined to comment.
As concerns around teen use grew,
in 2018, San Francisco passed a ban
on flavored tobacco products.
The number of high schoolers vaping
rose to more than 3 million.
And Juul’s market share increased by 160% within a year.
The vaping giant was at an all-time high
and seemed untouchable.
Untill the FDA declared youth vaping an epidemic.
They let this industry be unregulated for years
so everybody blames Juul.
But they were taking advantage of a market structure
that was put in place by congress, by the FDA.
In September, the agency launched the largest coordinated enforcement effort in its history,
issuing warnings and fines to retailers that illegally sold e-cigarettes to minors.
Then the FDA seized thousands of pages of documents
related to Juul’s sales and marketing practices.
In response, Juul got rid of every flavor
except tobacco, mint, and menthol from stores
and promised to enhance its online age verification system.
It also phased out all social media accounts
which had been accused of targeting teens for years.
Amid the controversy,
sales continued to soar as Juul was having its best year yet.
Co-founders Bowen and Monsees had always portrayed their company
as the one that could take big tobacco down.
But at the end of 2018,
Altria – one of the world’s largest tobacco brands,
invested 12.8 billion dollars in Juul,
taking a 35% stake.
That was a moment for Juul
that the glass shattered inside the company.
And some of the employees point blank
said to founders “have you been lying to us this entire time?”
The deal boosted Juul’s value to 38 billion dollars
and made its co-founders billionaires.
But not for long.
2019 is where the wheels kind of start to fall off.
A lot of lawmakers get interested.
Like representative Raja Krishnamurthi
who opened an investigation into whether or not
Juul had actively marketed its product to American children.
We’ve seen this movie before with combustible cigarettes
when so many children and teenagers were smoking.
We don’t want to see the sequel.
So in July 2019,
congress held a two-day hearing with co-founder James Moncy’s testifying.
Do you happen to know off the top of your head
how old you need to be to create an instagram account?
I, I don’t.
13, you have to be 13 years old.
The real tragedy is
what they didn’t communicate to young people
was that the real lifestyle they were selling
was a lifestyle of nicotine addiction.
Students like Meredith’s son
also gave testimony about Juul’s in person marketing tactics.
Did the presenter call Juul quote-unquote totally safe more than once?
What impact did those quote-unquote totally safe comments
have on your classmates,
some of whom may have already started vaping?
Um, for my classmates who are already vaping
it was a sigh of relief.
Because now they were able to vape without any concern.
But research shows teen vaping does come with negative health effects.
For children, it’s clearly dangerous.
They have developing neurological systems,
pulmonary and lung systems,
It creates pathways for further addiction
increases anxiety and increases depression.
Then came a suspicion of links to a mysterious lung illness.
Things really went bad for Juul
when the Evali outbreak hits.
Evali stands for e-cigarette
or vaping use-associated lung injury.
And cases were popping up everywhere.
The CDC trying to extinguish the health emergency linked to e-cigarettes.
In an interview with CBS,
Juul’s CEO shared grim advice for those who didn’t already use nicotine.
Don’t vape, don’t use juul.
Elizabeth wishes she had heard those words before being diagnosed with Evali.
They took a picture of my lungs.
And like regular lungs and it was just mine would just
looked like they had fog all over them.
Later, the outbreak was linked to bootlegged vaping products
that contained vitamin E acetate.
An additive that can interfere with normal lung functioning when inhaled.
Juul said its products did not have vitamin E acetate.
But juuling had become synonymous with vaping.
So the damage was already done.
And Juul’s once promising global expansion halted.
Soon states began filing lawsuits against the company.
Then in september 2019,
CEO Kevin Burns resigned,
and all advertising in the US was suspended.
School districts across the country started to sue Juul, too.
Under pressure, Juul’s new CEO removed mint pods from the market.
The Trump administration had also just announced a federal ban
on almost all flavored pods
and raised the legal tobacco age to 21.
These strategies seemed to pay off
as teen vaping rates dropped from 2019 to 2020.
But the following year, Juul’s legal battles came back to haunt them.
They settled with the state of North Carolina for 40 million dollars.
They settled with the state of Arizona for 14 million dollars.
And just as the FDA was set to rule on Juul’s authorization,
it decided to postpone the review.
The agency did however move forward with another vaping company.
Vuse Solo and its tobacco flavor pods
are the first of their kind to be legalized by the FDA.
So why delay the ruling on Juul?
I hate to say, but I think big tobacco has sway with the FDA.
The acting commissioner came before my committee
and told us that she believed in our conclusions
with regard to flavored e-cigarettes as well as
the nicotine content of e-cigarettes.
And yet we’re still in this situation where they haven’t acted.
The FDA told us that no one has swayed over its decision
and that it evaluates tobacco products
based on the risks and benefits on the population as a whole.
If they ban, you know like vapes and stuff
people are not going to be like
hey what’s the next best thing that has nicotine in it.
In a statement to Insider,
the FDA said it’s still evaluating applications for Juul’s products
and is committed to acting on them as soon as possible.
For parents like Dorian and Meredith,
their fight will continue as long as menthol pods are being sold.
When we know millions of kids are using menthol flavored products,
how can it be that they have still allowed
these products to remain on the market?
But in 2021,
Puff Bar overtook Juul as the number one e-cigarette choice among high schoolers.
The disposable device is not subject to FDA regulation
because it uses synthetic nicotine.
Today Juul only ranks fourth in popularity
and vaping among high schoolers is still in the decline
dropping by 42% from 2020 to 2021.
But the CDC notes
these survey estimates may be under-reported due to COVID and remote learning.
At the same time, cigarette sales are on the rise for the first time in 20 years.
The FDA is in a strange position.
Because on the one hand they want to be able to promote,
having this alternative for adult smokers.
But on the other hand,
they’re faced with this
company that helped create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Juul told Insider,
it was committed to a reset of the vapor category
to combat underage use.
But even if Juul survives with its now limited range of pods,
it will likely be under even greater scrutiny than ever before.
Juul was designed to help adult smokers quit,