Juul users prepare to say goodbye to their favorite vape

After about 25 years of smoking cigarettes, Tim Marchman wanted to quit. Yet he didn’t want to become what he calls a “vape guy,” a man who spends hours in specialty stores choosing from dozens of electronic nicotine delivery devices, many of them quite sophisticated. So he settled on what seemed to him the simplest option, Juul, a brand that for a while was practically synonymous with vaping.

“Juul is the default standard,” said Mr. Marchman, editor of science and technology site Vice Media. Motherboard, – said in an interview. “It’s just plug and play.”

Unlike some other e-cigarette brands, Juul was also widely available. “At gas stations in the middle of nowhere, they have it,” says Mr. Marchman said.

This is likely to change.

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration ordered Juul Labs stop selling your devices in the US, citing insufficient and conflicting company data on potentially harmful chemicals that can be released from Juul e-liquid pods. On Friday, a federal court granted the company a temporary reprieve, allowing it to keep its e-cigarettes in stores pending a legal review of the FDA’s ruling.

Like other converts, Mr. Marchman says he has no plans to go back to tobacco if it turns out he can no longer buy his favorite e-cigarette brand. However, he wonders how the FDA’s order might affect his habit.

“If I leave the country, should I take vape juice with me?” said Mr. Marchman, 43, lives in Philadelphia. “Where to get? I hardly know where to get it in Philadelphia.”

The FDA order follows years of criticism of the possible adverse health effects of Juul products and how they appealed to teenagers with various sweet flavors including mango, creme brulee and mint, as well as marketing campaigns aimed at youth.

The predecessor company, Juul Labs, was founded in 2007 by James Monsis and Adam Bowen, a pair of entrepreneurs who came up with an alternative to tobacco during their smoke breaks during their graduate studies at Stanford University. When Juul was first sold in 2015, the brand’s popularity skyrocketed, thanks in part to bright advertising campaign in which young people smiled, laughed and took poses under the word “evaporated”.

By 2018, Juul had become so popular that the brand name had become a verb, and teens furtively “Yowling” in classrooms and corridors. That same year, Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, agreed to pay $13 billion for a 35 percent stake in Juul Labs.

Then came wave of lawsuits filed by the state attorney general accusing the company of encouraging nicotine addiction among teenagers through its advertising campaigns. Juul ended up paying tens of millions of dollars to settle cases in 2019 and 2021. The rise and fall of the company, from Silicon Valley success story to public health outcast, was chronicled in the 2021 documentary “Move fast and steam things“New York Times”.

Although Juul lost business after cutting its advertising following lawsuits, it has remained one of the most visible and popular e-cigarette brands on the market. The news of a possible ban upset Matthew Luther, 31, who lives in Detroit and repairs leather goods.

“I will definitely miss Juuls. Luther, 31, said. “I think they were better aesthetically. They are easy to put in your pocket and are reusable.”

Like others interviewed for this article, he said he likes the simple design of Juul’s flash drive-like device. “The ban seems reversed to me,” he said.

The FDA ruling came just as Mr. Luther increased the use of Juul products. “I think it’s just life, stress, and I’ve been trying to quit smoking cigarettes,” he said.

Juul’s competitors, including Puff Barhave grown in recent years. But for many, Juul remains as synonymous with vaping devices as Kleenex is with wipes.

“When I think of e-cigarettes, I think of Juul,” said Jenny Matheson, who started using the brand in 2018. It was the only alternative to nicotine she found that allowed her to kick the Marlboro habit she had picked up in high school. she added.

RS. Matheson, 54, who lives in Rancho Mirage, Calif. and is a full-time caretaker for her disabled husband, said she would likely switch to Vuse, a rival brand, if the FDA passes its review.

For Mr. Marchman, an editor in Philadelphia, the FDA’s order, if left in place, could see him turn into the very type he’s long feared to be: a vaper.

“I’m about to get some weird vaping setup that I don’t quite understand,” Mr. Marchman said. “We’ll have to choose a device, try different juices. It will be a big deal.”

Sandra E. Garcia made a report.