NEWS JUUL IN THE CROWN AMERICA’S BEST-SELLING VAPE DEVICE HAS FINALLY LAUNCHED IN THE UK By Gordon Stribling US e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Labs has launched its signature pod system onto the UK vape market. This side of the pond has long been a major target for the company, not only because of the welcome approach of the UK government and the large and well-developed market but also the cultural similarities Britain shares with the US. While there are currently around three million vapers in the UK, that number has plateaued in the past few years. JUUL is hoping to attract a share of the millions more who continue to smoke tobacco despite the increased availability of less-harmful alternatives. Dan Thomson, managing director o f JUUL UK said: “Our mission is to end smoking globally. There are still a lot of smokers in the UK and cigarettes are expensive and heavily taxed. Much like the US, people in the UK are quite health-conscious, which makes the UK the ideal market for us to move into. “JUUL has proven to be successful for a number of reasons beyond just the nicotine. People like the sleek design of the closed system. It’s easy to use, it draws like a cigarette and there’s no battery to replace or buttons to press. And it’s discreet. Smokers can be put off by thick vape clouds.” The launch follows an 18-month period of sustained growth for JUUL Labs in the US, where their pod system now accounts for seven out of every ten vape devices sold. Since launching in Israel 12 months ago, the once-small company has become an international enterprise and they are already looking to expand into other territories. The success of JUUL can to some extent be attributed to the 50mg JUULPods. But while TPD regulations mean that UK vapers will only be able to obtain 20mg pods, the relatively high concentration of salt-based nicotine should still produce the cigarette-like hit that smokers crave when making the transition to vaping. While JUUL is primarily targeting smokers, the company is aware that current users of larger vaping devices are also looking to pod systems to use as a secondary device for times when they want to vape discreetly. 22 | VM19 The San Francisco company has been subject to considerable scrutiny in its short history, in part due to its former advertising practices that critics claimed were targeting teenagers. JUUL Labs has addressed this criticism by changing how it uses social media, replacing models with images of former-smokers of at least 28 years of age who successfully switched to vaping using the JUUL device. “It’s important to stress that underage use of JUUL is simply not acceptable,” Thomson said. “What I would say is that coverage in the US media is not representative of reality. Nicotine consumption among teens is actually going down year-on-year and is accelerating.” The company has rolled out a number of strict measures to ensure that JUUL use is restricted to adult smokers. Online customers are required to provide photographic identification at point-of-sale and retail partners have adopted the ‘Challenge 25’ policy, which has been successful in reducing illicit sales of alcohol. Thomson said: “We are taking a prudent approach to this and will be auditing shops and using mystery shoppers. If retailers are caught breaking the rules they will face sanctions. This could “MUCH LIKE THE US, PEOPLE IN THE UK ARE QUITE HEALTH-CONSCIOUS, WHICH MAKES THE UK THE IDEAL MARKET FOR US TO MOVE INTO” include cutting off their supply altogether.” While the hysteria around teen ‘JUULing’ rages on, there is little doubt that the device has helped a significant number of smokers quit. A press-release from the company revealed that 64 percent of adult smokers who used JUUL had stopped smoking altogether. While JUUL has been instrumental in the growth of vaping in the US, the device enters a well-established and highly competitive UK market, with similar devices such as the myBlu having a head- start. But Thomson is confident that the brand’s profile and the device’s reputation can give JUUL the upper hand. The success of JUUL flies against conventional wisdom of US tobacco controllers who have historically been keen to paint vaping as the friendly face of Big Tobacco. JUUL makes up almost two-thirds of the US vaping market yet it is entirely independent of the tobacco industry. JUUL founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen spent ten years researching and developing their vaping device with a view to creating an attractive alternative to smoking. The device and the pods are available to buy from over 250 retailers across the UK, as well as via the company’s own age- controlled web store.