Juul's Dreams, Up in Smoke?
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
The fast ascent of Juul within the ecigarette industry has been astonishing. Only launched in 2015, it has already been valued at more than $38bn after a $12.8bn minority investment by Malboro producer, Altria. Two founders Monsees and Bowen had a dream of making cigarettes obsolete by providing ‘something that is an overall
better experience--something that is better in every way’. Some argue that the rise of ‘vape’s’ has led to 2018 being the lowest level of smoking that the US CDC has ever seen. Then why has the company become so embroiled in FDA investigations?
Unfortunately, whilst disrupting the cigarette market was an achievement, the disruption in middle schools provoked backlashed in the media. Some accuse the company of deliberately marketing to children, with the FDA banning the online sale of many of the flavors as well as the
company being pressurized to shut its Instagram and Facebook accounts. In 2018, preliminary federal data suggests that the number of high school students who have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days is 75 percent and that the company are going after ‘customers for life’ through teens.
Juul’s defendants argue they are under fire solely because of their success at challenging the ‘Big Three’ Tobacco companies. The team at Juul however are not naïve and have already been proactive at building lobbying clout in an industry only several years old. Their budget for lobbying increased by 100% every quarter in 2018 and the likelihood is that this will continue into 2019. The lines are more blurred than when the dangers of smoking came to the forefront in the 80s, and it’s much harder to target a generation of Instagram influencers (from a legislative perspective) than a publicized mascot like Joe the Camel.