Reynolds American, once known as R.J. Reynolds and the manufacturer of Camel cigarettes, thinks they have pinpointed the cause of the teen vaping epidemic, and it is not the fruity ejuice flavors preferred by adult vapers. As reported CNBC, Reynolds thinks the blame should be placed entirely on Juul, and wants to fight FDA restrictions that punish the vaping industry in general but to do address Juul's role and past marketing strategies.
“FDA has already identified the main driver of youth interest: Juul,” said a Reynolds spokesperson. The maker of Newport and Vuse vapes as pointed out, “As the agency’s public statements confirm, underage users disproportionately prefer Juul to all other products. Armed with such knowledge, we believe the agency can take appropriately tailored steps to curb youth use.”
Federal E-Cig Laws
This is hardly a novel opinion. The US Senate launched an investigation in Juul's marketing practices, and word "Juuling" has become shorthand for teen nicotine consumption in the eyes of the media.
Despite the bad press Juul has received in recent months, the flurry of poorly constructed e-cig regulations drawn up by Congress would in most cases benefit them. The strictest bill of all, the Reversing Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act 2019, would eliminate most of Juul's competition with the stroke of a pen.
Flavor Ban Would Pave Way For Altria-Juul Monopoly
RJ Reynolds and the e-cig industry have plenty of reason for concern. FDA proposed restrictions on ejuice flavors would gut the vaping industry, destroying the refillable pod system market and locking in Juul's current market position in perpetuity. Refillable pods are one of two challenges faced by Juul. Check out our feature on the Top Ten Juul Alternatives for more information on these flexible vape pod systems.
Refillable vape pods offer superior performance and far more flavor options than Juul. But Juul’s limited flavor selection would not be a drawback if Washington was to annihilate the ejuice industry with a flavor ban. A flavor ban would also benefit Juul’s ally Altria. The Marlboro maker bought a 35 percent share of Juul this winter, and the recently FDA approved the IQOS heat-not-burn cigarette alternative.
The IQOS would be supremely positioned if the only ejuice flavors it had to compete with were tobacco and menthol, and the leading seller of these was a close ally in Juul.
Fruit Flavor Fallacy
Unfortunately for the vaping industry, Washington politicians remain fixated on sweet ejuice flavors and are convinced that they are sold with the express purpose of hooking America’s youth. This outmoded opinion is held by many in the media, but does not stand up to any scrutiny. The preferred flavor of minors is Juul mint. The fruit flavor fallacy is the most dangerous of the zombie vaping myths that refuse to die.
Retro ejuice packaging that targets adult vapers by resembling Reagan-era breakfast cereal commercials and junk food packaging, is another favored target of politicians. Studies have shown that the majority of adults prefer sweeter ejuice flavors. What makes ejuice flavor bans most ridiculous is that the vilified flavors are for use in vape mods and the larger devices preferred by adults.
The flavor fixation has led to such bills as the SAFE Kids Act. Proposed Congresswoman DeGette (D-Co), it is another strict e-cig law that punishes marginalized groups. An even more troubling turn of events is the proposed San Francisco E-Cig ban. A city known for embracing humane, harm reduction policies like needle exchanges and safe injection sites is perfectly willing to deny smokers any sort of cigarette alternative. Apparently, the gold standard is complete enforced abstinence when it comes to nicotine.
Vape Pod Ban
The FDA, for all their flaws, has apparently figured out that any effort to combat teen vaping should probably focus on the devices they actually use. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has repeatedly described a potential prefilled vape pod ban as a step they would consider as soon as this fall. This would not necessarily benefit Reynolds. Their Vuse Alto is direct Juul competitor. We pit them head to head in our Juul vs. Vuse Alto shoot-out comparison test.
Whatever share of blame Juul deserves, no credible analysis of teen vaping can be undertaken without first understanding their vaping device and the role of potent nicotine salts. For a complete guide to Juul's game changing pod system, check out our feature The Truth and Technology Behind Juul and Nic Salts revealed. For additional information, make sure you read the companion piece: What is Salt Nic?