Articles, Blog

How Juul made nicotine go viral

December 16, 2019

If you don’t look carefully though, you might miss what it’s
advertising. It’s this little thing and it’s called: Juul, Juul, Juul looks more like a
flash drive or computer device but it is really another kind of e-cigarette. Since it launched in 2015 Juul has taken over about 70% of the
e-cigarette retail market share. It’s now worth about 16 billion dollars. And that
success is often attributed to its sleek design, but the same features that make
Juul a well-engineered product also make it attractive to young people, many
of whom have never smoked before and that has people worried because devices
like Juul might be designed to help smokers get off cigarettes, but they’re
also addicting a new generation to nicotine. So what makes this one
e-cigarette so different from the rest? Answering that question starts with what
you see on the outside. Juul is an e-cigarette, but it really doesn’t look
like one. It looks like a tech product and it’s tiny. That allows smokers to get
a nicotine fix without having to worry about social stigma, but also allows
young users to consume nicotine inconspicuously without having to worry
about who sees them. Going to school having this in your pocket is a lot
better than having like something this big, that looks kind of like a lightsaber,
you know? You could kind of Juul anywhere in discreteness. That discreteness is a big shift for e-cigarettes. Since the first patent in
1930 designs haven’t been very subtle. The first generation of e-cigarettes
mimicked the shape size and colors of traditional cigarettes, sometimes even
with a fake light-up tip. The second and third generations focused on larger and
more customizable devices, with longer battery life and big plumes of vapor. Then came the Juul, a stripped-down version with no buttons, no big plumes of
vapor, and no complex refilling or recharging and it comes in a variety of
bright colors that set it apart from other e-cigarettes. Which made it look
like a tech product that young people were already familiar with. That is why
people called Juul the “iPhone of e-cigs.” And that similarity makes sense.
Juul’s founders met at Stanford design school and one worked as a design
engineer at Apple. They created the first
e-cigarette that looked more like a cool gadget and less like a drug delivery
device. This wasn’t smoking or vaping, it was Juuling. Yeah like how grandma’s have
iPhones now, it’s kind of like normal. Kids have Juuls now, because it looks
so modern. We kind of trust modern stuff a little bit more, so we’re like we
can use it we’re not gonna have any trouble with it, because you can trust it. The tech aspect definitely helps people get introduced to it and then
once they’re introduced to it they’re staying, because they’re
conditioned to like all these different products and then this is another
product and it’s just another product until you’re addicted to nicotine. And that is where it gets tricky. A 2017 study found that 25% of 15-24
year-olds recognize the Juul in a photo, but the majority of them didn’t know
that it always contains nicotine. It’s easy to trace that information gap. You
just have to look at the ads. When you look at Juul’s marketing today you find
video testimonials from adult ex-smokers. My name is Lauren. My name is Brandy. My name is Carolyn. My name is Iman, I’m 38. But when Juul
first launched, their marketing looked a lot different. When you put those ads
alongside old cigarette ads, the similarities are pretty striking. Both marketed relaxation, sharing, travel, freedom, and sex appeal. It’s now illegal
for cigarette brands to use these kinds of suggestive advertising themes, but for e-cigarette manufacturers who had products on the market before 2016, those strategies are still
unregulated. That’s why a brand like Kandypens can be promoted in DJ Khaled
music videos, just like tobacco corporations used to pay stars to smoke
their cigarettes on screen. But compared to cigarettes, Juuls are a lot easier to
start using. Typical e-cigarettes have between six and thirty milligrams of
nicotine per milliliter of vape liquid. One Juul pod packs in 59 milligrams.
That’s three times the nicotine levels permitted in the European Union, which is
why Juul isn’t sold there. But here in the US, e-cigarettes don’t have the
same restrictions even though we know that nicotine dependency can prime
developing brains for future substance abuse disorders. The company says that
Juul’s nicotine content is about as much as a pack of cigarettes, though tobacco
experts say it’s likely more than that. And Juuls have a patented system for
delivering that nicotine. Most e-cigarettes use a potent version of nicotine called
freebase that gives users a strong hit, but Juuls vaporize a liquid made from
nicotine salts. Those salts allow nicotine to be absorbed into the body at
about the same speed as regular cigarettes, much faster than most e-cigarettes. But unlike freebase nicotine which can be irritating, nicotine salt
goes down smoothly. So Juul packs a bigger nicotine dose into a much more
pleasant hit than most devices on the market and that has public health
officials worried because the US almost beat nicotine addiction among
kids. As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other
nicotine products and especially e-cigarettes has taken a drastic leap. In April, the FDA demanded that Juul submit documents on its marketing and research. A group of senators sent a letter asking Juul to stop using flavors and designs
that appeal to children and there are now three lawsuits alleging that Juul
contains too much nicotine. In response, to the concerns the makers of Juul
have pledged thirty million dollars to combat underage use. Merchandise and
marketing materials now have big warning labels on them and the company is
developing lower nicotine pods. The trouble is there’s still a lot we don’t
know about the long-term health impacts of e-cigarettes. Juul, like other
e-cigarettes might have set out to design a solution to a public health
problem, but in a lot of ways their product has created a new one.


  • Reply Vox August 10, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Design shapes trends in ways that are almost invisible to us, unless you look closely. That's what we're doing with By Design, a new Vox series produced by Christophe Haubursin. Check it out:

  • Reply Swords And sandals August 29, 2019 at 11:02 am

    I swear it’s not the nicotine that messes up your lungs but rather the tar

  • Reply Marc Dumont August 30, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Coffee Break also did a very good video on this subject.

  • Reply j m August 31, 2019 at 5:41 am

    If you have to choose between kids having tide pods or Juul pods.

  • Reply TAN STOODIO August 31, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    If Juul colonized the earth with these Stuff We better Panic!

  • Reply Xien ming Vega August 31, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    First Juul death happened in the U.S. not long ago

  • Reply a n August 31, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    Imagine going to stanford design school to make e-cigs for kids

  • Reply Abby Pacheco September 1, 2019 at 11:10 am

    It makes me really sad that we could’ve been the first generation without severe nicotine addiction but they just HAD to make a smokable usb stick that smells like bubblegum mango cotton candy. Bruh moment my dudes bruh moment indeed. ?

  • Reply MiningStar September 1, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    But you can get JUUL in the EU, it just has a smaller nicotine concentration.

  • Reply Brayan Ranjel September 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Juul is Lowkey just a giant meme

  • Reply Kelly Leung September 2, 2019 at 1:14 am

    One way to beat kids using Juul is making it only accessible with a prescription.

  • Reply Random Channel September 2, 2019 at 4:15 am

    ngl these new generations of humans are really going to be addicted to nicotine..where i live vapes are getting into primary school and are used by the older kids

  • Reply Stephanie G September 2, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Enjoy your popcorn lungs..

  • Reply Sutherland Rebecca September 2, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    For real tho the amount of nic crammed into those things is what's scary

  • Reply María B N September 2, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    tldr: americans are surprised tobacco has nicotine

  • Reply Marten Diemer September 2, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Highschoolers: Ewwww cigarettes are disgusting

  • Reply endless nameless September 3, 2019 at 3:02 pm


  • Reply youlasty September 3, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    nicotine isnt bad for you….

  • Reply Get out The way September 3, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    It’s too late

  • Reply j.f September 3, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    End of my 7th grade year was the first time I ever heard of the word juul. 8th grade year, I hit my first juul. Freshman year of high school, I owned 4. Everyone normalizes it, and it’s extremely addicting. I can gladly say that as a sophomore I threw away all my juuls and have no intention of hitting another juul again.

  • Reply Paula Pavão September 3, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    Juul brought a nicotine addiction to a generation who wasn't likely to be addicted to it at all

  • Reply Leo September 4, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    lol things like the juul have been around for a minute tbh yall missed the mark on this one the breeze 1 has been around and using nic salt for a min. this got big because rich white people thought it was cool lol

  • Reply ManWithKindofAPlan September 4, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    I have quit the juul as of yesterday…I made a video of me completely destroying it with a stick, rock, axe, and gun. Check it out for total juul destruction

  • Reply Christian T September 4, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve seen juul pods in my school bathroom…

  • Reply Elizabeth S September 5, 2019 at 4:04 am

    Juuling lead to so many health issues for me. I used to make fun of people who had nicotine addictions and then I got one. It messes you up. It’s not worth it. It’s so bad for you, the 30 second buzz isn’t worth it.

  • Reply NoSchapes September 6, 2019 at 3:50 am

    Food and drug administration has the worst antivaping ads.

  • Reply Veronica Rosa September 6, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    @ all of the people at my school

  • Reply minmay September 7, 2019 at 6:35 am

    my generation and younger could've been the first to no longer be addicted to nicotine, but now capitalism and a branch of the tobacco industry have all these kids addicted to nicotine and convinced its harmless. it frustrates me to the point of anger. i hate seeing my peers harm their health and try to justify it because it's the norm.

  • Reply Belle V September 7, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    I live in us and had never ever heard of juul

  • Reply Berry bloxxom September 8, 2019 at 12:12 am


  • Reply Strawberry Cupcake September 8, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Man, this just makes me glad I watched youtubers who made fun of people for JUULing and such… I've never tried it, and am not interested.

  • Reply PokeObsession September 9, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Good video

  • Reply burning burgundy September 10, 2019 at 4:28 am

    I have asthma, i’ll stick with my inhaler 🙂

  • Reply angrydynamite September 10, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Let's all have nicotine addiction aye?

  • Reply angrydynamite September 10, 2019 at 9:49 am

    E cigarettes are banned in Singapore. Woohoo, asians don't support.

  • Reply Vivian Hi September 11, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I was hanging out with a new friend this summer. She was vaping and had no idea what was in it. Do some research before trying something new, it might affect your health.

  • Reply Artistic Lion September 12, 2019 at 12:18 am

    Make it mango flavored

  • Reply Ava Doty September 12, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    4:58 why did it spike in the late 90s? What happened?

  • Reply Davis Winn September 12, 2019 at 9:39 pm


    When the popcorn lung kills ya at least youll look cool

  • Reply Cody Hunter September 13, 2019 at 9:03 am

    i miss when juuling was stereotypically limited to lame reddit neckbeards who wore fedoras

  • Reply Michelle Larkin September 13, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Juul put out by Big Tobbacco…..enough said?

  • Reply Joe Gray September 14, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    we have juul in euope they just have less nicotine

  • Reply chrysoula marinou September 15, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Funny how a year after this video we had the first death attached to vaping and juuling…

  • Reply downhillsyndrome September 15, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Literally anyone vaping anything besides a juul:
    Stranger: are you juuling?

  • Reply expressnonce September 15, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    juul isn't banned in Europe what

  • Reply SkATAN September 15, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    just make them switch to vegetable flavors only.. kids gunna hate that XD

  • Reply Kawmik Kein September 17, 2019 at 1:21 am

    i feel like these statistics ain't that real, I feel like there has been a higher JUUL rise than just 30%, teens aint that honest, maybe 50%

  • Reply Dale Twokey September 17, 2019 at 10:14 am

    What weed vaporizers have to do with e-cigarettes?
    I'm pretty sure that Kandy Pen is just dry herb vaporizer.

  • Reply M A September 17, 2019 at 11:20 am

    First vape patent in 1930? ? Did I hear that right??

  • Reply Lunarcat Lord07 September 17, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    My cousin got caught vaping.
    Juul claims it isn’t for kids
    He is 14?
    The flavors that we found in his car

    Birthday cake

  • Reply Hadi 46290 September 18, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Juul should be an alternative to tobacco not oxygen

  • Reply matt kaluza September 18, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Dude vox always makes these vids that scratch the surface. Did this dude actually get paid for this? I could probably get a more informative video from a 9th grader who made one for a project in health class. Jesus Christ this isn’t journalism this is an exercise in meeting the bare minimum criteria for what’s considered news

  • Reply you c rusty September 19, 2019 at 12:33 am

    for sure food for thought

  • Reply ThatOneGirl Gamer September 19, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    My teacher ?‍? smokes Juul in class, and let my classmates try, I didn’t cuz I thought I was gonna choke lol ?

  • Reply A. Walker September 21, 2019 at 6:31 am

    How do you sleep at night having been part of creating this..

  • Reply Sakuraablossoms September 21, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    juul is cool ?

  • Reply FunkYoLove September 21, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Nicotine: the real gateway drug.

  • Reply Nathan M September 24, 2019 at 7:36 am

    this guy looks like troye sivan

  • Reply diddle doddle link a poodle September 25, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    No it didn't I don't remember them getting so popular

  • Reply AC October 2, 2019 at 2:17 am

    It’s like no one heard about cigarettes

  • Reply OfThe 4thKind October 3, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Alive with pleasure!

  • Reply AnonyGirl October 4, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Dubai kids watch out

  • Reply HuMan Being 34/7 October 4, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    America’s news team made the July popular.

  • Reply HuMan Being 34/7 October 4, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    We like the small vapes because of Social Stigma? My you are Way off track.

  • Reply Bill Franz October 7, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    This was done on purpose, by Big Tobacco, they were losing to regular
    E juice, so they made a mess ,so they can legislate vaping and take out the competitors.

  • Reply Mike Mose13Y October 16, 2019 at 8:27 am

    How I know something is bad- kids and teens like it

  • Reply Andrew Tyler October 16, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Saludos desde Uruguay ??

  • Reply misterman 69 October 17, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Haaaaaave you heard about ciggarettes?

  • Reply Dr Penguin October 21, 2019 at 2:37 am

    juuling in skuul is not kuul

  • Reply Jeff the Derp October 21, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I’m pretty sure more than 30% of kids juul and all kids know about it

  • Reply berk arslan October 22, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Why is the commentary delivered in a police station questioning room

  • Reply NLB_ October 26, 2019 at 2:32 am

    when y'all get popcorn lungs from vaping ill just be sitting back and eating popcorn

  • Reply Jug Atmos November 3, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    The next wave of disease-induced from "juul-ing".

  • Reply NF Zephyr November 7, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Tf does bright colors have to do with anything

  • Reply Nadia November 12, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Just get caliburn like a normal person

  • Reply Desmond Le November 13, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    The problem with just banning juul is that there will always be another product to replace it on the market for teens

  • Reply Yolopapi November 16, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Vox is the best they make high quality vids on youtube and great episodes on Netflix

  • Reply Alex Williams November 17, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Juuls awsom!!!!!! Ilove it!!!

  • Reply Cole Malmos November 19, 2019 at 12:20 am

    "without having to worry about social stigma"
    lol think that if u want

  • Reply HuMan Being 34/7 November 23, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Juul the iPhone of ecigs? No not even

  • Reply Braided Pube November 23, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Juul is way better than the cancer that Vox is.

  • Reply Shaq eel O kneal November 23, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Don’t juul stay in schuul

  • Reply nk shroud November 24, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    All the fault is of government

  • Reply Braided Pube November 25, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    Juul ARMY RISE UP!

  • Reply holly_jolly November 28, 2019 at 8:00 am


  • Reply Jynx Kidd November 29, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Anyone here from 2019 with knowing the FDA has a temp. Ban on Juuls because of the collapsing lungs?

  • Reply HuMan Being 34/7 December 2, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    How are they doing Now?

  • Reply TheFifaGamer2000 December 4, 2019 at 2:25 am

    It has become the thing it swore to destroy

  • Reply el maty 248 December 4, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    The only thing that i am adicted are videogames and coke drinks

  • Reply Apple User 2 December 7, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Ah yes targeting to teens with pretty colors and flavors. BRUH

  • Reply Taylor Mitchell December 8, 2019 at 5:21 am

    Vaping is safer than cigarettes, which makes it a great tool for those trying to wean themselves off the latter, but it’s not “safe”. There’s no reason children who have never smoked before should be getting hits of nicotine. So many people my age brush these warnings off by saying “I’m perfectly healthy” and “let me live my life”, and it’s frightening how identical their rhetoric is to smokers back in the fifties…

  • Reply Strawberry Jam December 8, 2019 at 11:00 am

    That advertisement looks like those 50's cigarette ads.

  • Reply Z H December 8, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    You know what they say if you juul your a fuul

  • Reply Stephen Ball December 9, 2019 at 10:11 am

    This makes me want to buy a Juul.

  • Reply SovietSpy2291 December 10, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Thanks but I prefer cocaine

  • Reply Ooohbopbopboppadoohwah December 12, 2019 at 1:44 am

    1:05 look at that picture of Kim Possible

  • Reply Adam A December 13, 2019 at 3:02 am

    Must have dementia cause I don’t remember asking

  • Reply Daniel Brotsman December 14, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    it is quite popular in Ukraine

  • Reply Raju K E P December 15, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Anybody watching after juul ban

  • Reply Sarahgrace Cook December 16, 2019 at 2:23 am

    Yeah it doesn’t have a ton of vapor so any one on my bus can if they just lean down in their seat a little

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