The top U.S. e-cigarette manufacturer is working to develop a pod that is lower in nicotine but higher in vapor. High-nicotine products that give off just a wisp of vapor have put Juul Labs at the front of the U.S. e-cigarette market in just three years, but success has prompted growing pressure from the public and government to stop the epidemic of teenage vaping. Juul’s new effort comes amid calls for the company to reduce its marketing to teens.
The company hopes the higher-vapor, lower-nicotine pod will appeal to cigarette users who smoke cigarettes that produce a bigger cloud. That aim is described by people knowledgeable about the development plan, according to The New York Times. Critics say reducing the pod’s nicotine could eventually encourage more widespread use of the e-cigarette. Higher vapor could potentially make the pods even more addictive by enhancing the rate at which the body absorbs nicotine.
Increased potential for nicotine addiction is particularly risky for younger smokers because their developing brain are more susceptible, according to critics.
Juul is designing the new pods for overseas sales, where the company hopes to see the same success it’s had in this country. The manufacturer will have to meet nicotine restrictions that are tougher than those in the U.S. The nicotine limit for e-cigarettes is 20 milligrams per milliliter of fluid in the United Kingdom, where Juul is already on the market, and in the European Union, where Juul plans to expand.
The overseas restriction would force Juul to cut nicotine levels to about a third of the amount found in the most popular American Juul pod. Most Juul pods contain five percent nicotine. You would have to smoke 20 cigarettes to inhale the same amount of nicotine, according to the CDC.
The e-cigarette company already sells a lower-nicotine U.S. version that contains 23 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of fluid. The lower-nicotine U.S. e-cig still exceeds European Union requirements.
The San Francisco-based firm has not said whether it will market the lower-nicotine, higher-vapor product in the United States, but Juul would have to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. once favored the development of smoking alternatives such as e-cigarettes to curb the 480,000 annual deaths in the United States from cigarette-related disease. This administration has declared encouraging smokers to quit as its priority public health goal. But since e-cigarette use has skyrocketed among young smokers, the FDA recently curbed sales of sweet flavors popular among teens. Juul has sold e-cigs in flavors like mango and cucumber.
Juul CEO Kevin Burns now says the company will restrict the sale of mint, tobacco, and menthol flavors to stores. The firm will make its more dessert-like flavors available only through online purchases. Juul also announced it would call a halt to its social media marketing campaigns and shut down its U.S.-based Facebook and Instagram accounts. Changes in sales and marketing are intended to limit young smoker’s access to popular flavored pods and the USB-shaped e-cigarettes.