Tobacco has been around for hundreds of years, vaping has been around for only dozens of years. So, is it possible for vaping to challenge—and perhaps even win—against Big Tobacco? It certainly wouldn’t be an easy fight, but if any vaping company is ready to take them on, it’s JUUL.
As many of you loyal JUUL users know, it is the biggest name in e-cigarettes, having cornered nearly 70% of the domestic market. They have since expanded sales of their e-cigarette and its pods to Israel and later to the United Kingdom, specifically, England and Scotland. With this global expansion, can JUUL take on Big Tobacco? Just what are their chances? Keep reading to find out.
The History of JUUL
JUUL was actually spun off of a different company, namely Pax labs. Pax labs was founded in 2007 and they manufacture a variety of different vaporizers, in particular, the legendary Pax 3 dry herb vaporizer. On June 1, 2015, Pax debuted the JUUL e-cigarette and it quickly became a sensation. E-cigarettes had been on the market before, but the JUUL still made a splash because of its convenience and ease of use.
It was not much bigger than a flash drive, so it was more portable than other e-cigarettes. The disposable JUUL pods made it much easier to use since all the user had to do was pop in a new one when they used up a previous one. Those qualities made the JUUL far more accessible than other e-cigarettes. But, they still had one more ace in the hole that would put the JUUL on top. Nicotine salts.
The Nicotine Salt Difference
Nicotine salts more closely replicate the feeling of smoking because they deliver a stronger nicotine hit at lower temperatures. This provides a smoother vaping experience without the harsh feeling higher temperatures can bring.
The use of nicotine salts made the JUUL far more attractive to former and current smokers because it is as close as they can get to smoking a traditional cigarette using a vaping device. The combination of convenience and its close mimicry of the smoking experience made the JUUL an irresistible device to both vapers and smokers, which accounts for its runaway success.
Vaping vs Smoking
Over the last ten years, cigarette use has declined in most of the developed nations. This is due to factors like increased public awareness of the dangers of smoking, as well as increasing taxes on tobacco products. Another possible reason is the concurrent increase in vaping. Vaping has seen a huge increase worldwide, in 2008, the total global sales were $20 million. A mere ten years later and global sales are on track to surpass $10 billion.
In America, JUUL is a huge part of that sales increase, their e-cigarette has captured 68% of the market share. Their influence is so all-encompassing that they have managed to accomplish that rare and coveted corporate feat of having their brand name become a verb. Juuling is the term used to describe vaping from an e-cigarette, but that term, and JUUL’s influence has caused some problems.
The same properties that make the JUUL appealing to adult vapers and smokers also makes it appealing to teenagers. Even though JUUL does not advertise to teenagers and does not recommend the JUUL be used by teenagers, it is a popular device among the high school set.
This has sparked public concern about the dangers of teenagers vaping. JUUL has addressed this problem by pledging $30 million to support government initiatives to increase the tobacco-purchasing age. Even though JUUL is not directly responsible for this controversy, they are doing their part to try and correct it.
JUUL Goes Global
JUUL was previously only available in America, but recently they have expanded into new global markets.
JUUL in Israel
In May of 2018, the JUUL launched in Israel, a canny move, because Israel is one of the few countries that does not have any regulations on e-cigarettes. That has led to some controversy in the country because some officials are worried about the high nicotine level of the JUUL pods.
The result is that Israel’s deputy health minister threatened to impose a ban on the e-cigarettes. This proposed ban could cause problems because only the JUUL would be targeted by it even though there are hundreds of different e-cigarettes in the Israeli market. Nonetheless, the Israeli Health Ministry wants to enact regulations on e-cigarettes similar to the ones in the EU (European Union), as well as implementing the same restrictions on e-cigs as on regular cigarettes.
JUUL in the United Kingdom
As of June of 2018, the JUUL is now officially sold in England and Scotland. One of the reasons JUUL decided to sell its e-cigarette in the UK is that they are amenable to the idea that vaping is a superior alternative to smoking. They have to sell lower nicotine JUUL pods in order to abide by the EUs restrictions on the amount of nicotine—20 mg/mL—allowed in e-cigarettes.
However, despite the support of organizations like ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), e-cigarette use seems to have peaked in the UK since 2013. It is entirely possible that JUUL will be unaffected by this since there are currently 2.9 million e-cigarette users in the UK who have never tried the JUUL.
JUUL vs Big Tobacco
Big Tobacco has controlled the smoking market for decades without any competition. Until now. The tobacco powerhouse Altria (a branch of Philip Morris USA) saw its stock tumble after it was downgraded from buy to neutral. This downturn has been ascribed to the rise of the JUUL, according to Wall Street analyst Jim Cramer. He states that “…electronic cigarettes have become a serious threat to the old-school cigarette makers”.
Those old-school cigarette makers have tried to launch their own e-cigarette devices to compete with the JUUL. PMI’s (Philip Morris International) iQOS device has been available for a while now, but not in America. Unlike regular e-cigarettes, the iQOS uses actual tobacco rather than just nicotine, which is why it has struggled to enter the American market. PMI’s application to sell the iQOS in America is over 3 million pages long. Until recently it has been very successful in Japan, but growth has slowed in that country.
The Future of JUUL
The future of JUUL looks bright, it has expanded into new markets and the company is currently valued at $15 billion dollars. Meanwhile the future of Big Tobacco looks ever dimmer. Smoking continues to lose popularity and so far, they have failed to make inroads into the e-cigarette market.
JUUL will likely add more countries to its global reach, further eating into Big Tobacco’s profits. Plus, there are rumors that JUUL is working on a Bluetooth enabled version of their e-cigarette that can connect to smartphone apps. Should this come to fruition, there would be no limits on what the JUUL can accomplish and how far it could go.