What is the Juul?
The Juul, an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) originally from Pax Labs (now spun off into an independent company), is the most popular e-cigarette device on the market today. The term for Juuls and devices like it are pod vapes. Juul currently owns over half the market share of electronic cigarette and vape sales. Much of their success can be attributed to its affordable price point and its ease of use. Juul Starter Kits retail for $49.99 on the manufacturer’s website. Each Juul device comes with a standard one-year warranty and requires registering the device on their website. The starter kit includes a rechargeable Juul heating device, the USB charger, and a 4-pack of varied Juulpods (Tobacco, Mint, Mango, and Creme Brulee). The device can be purchased individually, without Juulpods, for $34.99. You can read our review of the Juul here.
The Juulpod, a disposable e-liquid cartridge, comes in a variety of flavors. From Classic or Virginia tobacco to Mango or Fruit Medley, Juulpods are available to suit a number of different tastes. Packs of 4 are available on Juul’s website for $15.99/pack. Juul also offers a subscription auto-ship service with customization options including shipping dates and quantities requested. Juul will provide your 6th Juulpod for free after every 5th purchased. The product’s namesake is appended to more than just their nicotine cartridges, however.
Given the prevalence of the Juul among electronic cigarette users, a new trend in the language of vaping is to refer to using the Juul as “juuling” – to make the noun a verb. The term has taken off so handily, at least in part, due to the increasing number of younger folks using the device. Juuling is the act of taking a puff on a Juul or Juul-style e-cig device. Given the quick rise to popularity in the e-cig community, similar devices have since hit the market, though none with their own verb, yet.
Meet the Competition
The Phix by MLV ( Major League Vapers) is one of the major competitors of Juul. Based in California, the Phix is quite similar in form factor to Pax Labs’ Juul, though the Phix offers a unique charging cable and a variety of flavored nicotine cartridges different from those found in Juulpods. Phix’s nicotine cartridges are also about twice the volume of the Juul, at 1.5 ml compared to Juul’s 0.7. While Phix’s base unit retail’s cheaper than the Juul, a 4-pack of Phix cartridges retails for $22.99, versus Juul’s $15.95. Like Juul, Phix boasts a proprietary blend for the e-liquid in their cartridges, as well as the design for their heating unit.
The Juno, by Twelve Vapor is another branded competitor of the Juul. Again, the vape comes with a 4-pack of various flavored nicotine cartridges. The Juno’s flavors are generic, however, with names like “Dessert” and “Tobacco,” compared to Juul’s more specific flavor profiles. A starter kit for the Juno is comparable in price to that of the Phix, but Juno’s 4-packs of refill cartridges are the cheapest thus far, at $16.99/pack. Another feature setting the Juno apart from its competition is an option to choose from 3 different nicotine levels in their cartridges, ranging from 18, 36, or 48 mg per 1.6 ml cartridge.
Finally, there is the Bo, by Bō Vaping. Their nicotine cartridges, called “Bō Caps,” also come in different proportions of nicotine: 35 or 55 mg per 1.5 ml of liquid. Unlike their competitors, Bō caps are made with nicotine salts, which, according to the company’s site are “easier to inhale, less harsh on the throat and [deliver] more of a satisfying nicotine hit that [more closely] resembles traditional cigarettes.” With a price point closer to the Juul, one of the major selling points for the Bō is the number of designs and prints available. Devices range from flat colors to mosaics and street art patterns.
Though Juuls are manufactured only in a few colors, independent companies’ accessories are widely available to modify or protect the look of the Juul. The BuukCase – a leather, folio-style holding case for a juul, charger, and full 4 pack of pods – is as practical as it is sleek. It is easy to leave a juul in a pair of jeans and wash it, or set it down on a table and forget it. A case, or perhaps a lanyard, are some of the useful innovations coming from the Juul community, especially for us forgetful vapers.
A big trend in Juul accessories are wraps, or skins. Skins are made from a thin vinyl, printed with myriad designs, patterns, images, or writing to customize the mod. Some are made specifically to fit the Juul, with a hole for the Juul LED light. Pod vape skins are so popular, entire e-commerce businesses are dedicated to skins that fit the Juul and its competitors, like Phix. A custom vinyl skin for a Juul is a fun and expressive accessory, but a Juul is still ultimately a smoking cessation tool for adults with a nicotine habit.
Juul and Nicotine Content
Juulpod packaging contains specific verbiage about the nicotine content of their pods. Rather than specify the milligram (mg) content, Juulpods are stated to contain “5% nicotine by volume.” Users commonly average the percentage to about 50mg/mL. One reddit user, however, has gone so far as to explicate the math and variable weights of each component in the e-liquid to clarify the Juulpod’s nicotine content at somewhere between 55-60 mg/mL. Recently, the company announced they will be releasing a 3% nicotine Juulpod come August. At first, the only available flavors will be Mint and Virginia Tobacco, but Juul seems hopeful that they will eventually roll out a full line of lower nicotine cartridges. Currently, there are no Juulpods without nicotine content. It is unclear whether Juul will release a zero-nicotine cartridge in the future.
Juul Health Risks
Some of the potential negative effects of the Juul are similar to the potential problems you’ve likely heard about vape use (save for some of the scare propaganda). Using an ENDS, including pod vapes like the Juul, comes with a number of the same risks as smoking cigarettes, including lung and heart diseases. While there is increased study to support the benefits of vaping compared to smoking cigarettes, it is equally important to consider that nicotine is an addictive substance with harmful side effects, regardless of how it enters the body.
Nicotine, as in cigarettes, is also present in e-cigs and vapes. If someone was not a cigarette smoker starts using a Juul, they risk becoming addicted to nicotine. E-cigs and other ENDS were designed as smoking cessation tools and function to help former and current cigarette smokers quit. Still, various outlets report, thanks to the uptick in teen vape use, of some younger folks using the devices and becoming addicted. Vaping is not as bad for the lungs as smoking cigarettes, research suggests. Given the newness of vaping products on the global market, no longitudinal research exists yet to study the effects of vapes and other e-cig devices on the lungs.
One major concern comes from a vape juice ingredient. There is a connection between the chemical diacetyl and popcorn lung. Diacetyl is a component of e-cigarette and vape liquids. However, again, no conclusive or long-term science can make any absolute claims about the effects of ENDS on the lungs. Harvard’s study finding diacetyl in e-cigarette vapor was released only in 2015.
While research is still developing, the e-cig trend has inspired researchers to produce results as readily as possible. A recent NYU study suggests the correlation between e-cigarette vapor and increased chance of cancer. Current findings from these groups are limited and often are precursors to operating larger-scale work to continue their research. It is important to follow the science of vaping closely, as with its relative infancy, there is still much to discover.
Though the Juul is an ENDS and is often referred to as a pod vape, it and others like it differ from regulated or unregulated mod vapes and from pen vapes in a few ways. A portable mod vape typically consists of components such as a tank, a battery, and a coil. Tanks are manually refilled with the user’s own e-liquids. Coils come in various sizes and draw differently depending on the ohms. Batteries either deliver a steady, uncontrolled voltage (unregulated) or can be adjusted to varied outputs (regulated). Pen vapes are a slim, small unregulated mod either with a small tank or are even disposable after a single use. Juuls and other pod vapes devices are small and simple, like a pen vape, but hit more like a cigarette. The Juul, for example, has only 2 components: the heating unit and the nicotine cartridge (Juulpod). Juulpods currently have a set nicotine level of 5% per 0.7 ml cartridge, making the hit feel more like a smoke. Despite their differences, Juulers often come across some of the same issues as any other vaper.
Juul Common Concerns
In regards to travel, most important to know if flying internationally, electronic cigarettes are banned in certain countries. As with all e-cigarette and vape devices, the official TSA guidelines state they be stored in carry on luggage or kept on your person, and cannot be put into checked baggage. We published an article a couple years ago that cover the details of how to properly travel with your vape mod and accessories on a flight. Juul recommends disposing of partially-used pods before flying, as they have the potential to leak due to altitude changes.
Your Juulpod may suffer a leak. If this happens, there are a number of ways to remedy this issue. Juul recommends “a gentle puff on the mouthpiece” as one solution, which is to say do not suck on the vape. A light, steady inhaled draw on the mouthpiece is all that is needed to heat the liquid into a vapor. Pressure on the sides of the pods can also force liquid through them, causing a leak.
If the Juul device has difficulty charging, the company recommends “cleaning the charge contacts on the device as well as the charging base itself using a cotton swab moistened with isopropyl alcohol.” Their support page also links to a contact page where, after answering a couple questions to understand the issue, Juul offers email, chat, and phone support to users. The device also comes standard with a one year warranty.
If the device does not hit, or will not produce vapor, Juul’s official support page recommends “using a cotton swab dampened with a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol (squeezing off any excess first) to clean the contacts on both the pod and inside JUUL where the pod is inserted,” and/or “taking the pod out and gently tapping it (mouthpiece side up) on the table and reinserting.”
The internet is awash with reports of local and online vendors selling “Juul” devices, only to discover they purchased a “fake” or “knockoff” Juul device. One redditor discovered their device was fake after contacting customer support and learning the serial number was invalid. Another poster described an issue with cloudy pods after buying from a “certified Juul” vendor. Consumers should be cautious in their Juul purchases from local vape shops and online retailers. Few Juul competitors have their own legitimate branding, and any device listed as a Juul that does not carry the correct placement of the company’s logo and the unit’s serial number is suspect.
A Marked Market Change
In just a few years’ time, the Juul has overtaken the vape market, from innovation to imposters. The device has changed perception of vaping by becoming a household (and school-wide) name. This simple pod vape has revitalized conversation about health risks in nicotine products, and inspired researchers to take up or continue the mantle of heart and lung health science in an increasingly tobaccoless future. For those looking to curb their nicotine habit, or need an alternative method to quitting combustible cigarettes aside from the gums or the patches, Juul is a viable option. Be sure to do your due diligence in researching before you buy, and only buy from a reliable source. We recommend buying from the official Juul website. With pod flavors and accessories to suit a variety of literal and figurative tastes, it is no wonder such a small piece of tech has made such a large impact.