The global market for electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes, e-cigs, or vapes, has experienced a sharp growth recently and is expected to further grow by between 8.6%2 -17% annually until 20231. Total sales will reach up to $21.4B by 2023 (against $11.73B in 2019)1, 1/3 of sales are in the US2. These battery-powered devices turn a liquid cartridge (or "pod") into aerosols that are inhaled2. Health effects are still debated, but it's clear that a majority of e-cigs contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that affects developing brains and can lead to future addictions to real cigarettes3. E-cigarettes are mainly smoked by minors, with an estimated 5.3 million teens using them4.
Juul, Altria’s e-cigarette brand, has gained popularity among minors since its launch in 2015, dominating 73.4% of the e-cigarette marketplace5. Smoking one single Juul pod (roughly 200 puffs) contains the same nicotine levels as smoking 20 cigarettes6.
Marketed to younger generations with attractive flavors, Juul is the preferred e-cigarette among 59.1% of US high school users and 54% of US middle schoolers5. This equates to over 3 million minors regularly using Juul5. While Juul sells themselves as the better alternative to cigarettes, US studies have shown that Juul actually increases the rate of future cigarette users by 3x6, touching nearly 200,000 people5. It deceives its users, as 2/3 of users aged 15-21 are unaware the product contains nicotine5.
While long-term effects have yet to be published, short terms effects are worrying. There have been 2,807 serious lung injury cases requiring hospitalization and 68 deaths7. The exact number of cases linked to Juul cannot be confirmed, but their high market share shows that Juul has a big responsibility in these illnesses.
Overall, Juul is promoting toxic habits for minors. We must monitor the long-term health and behavioral effects in order to gauge where Juul stands in the industry.