Angel or Devil?

I wish Juul hadn’t launched here in Ireland,

No really, they are more trouble than they are worth. Juul isn’t any different than the other so-called pod systems on the market. What they do have is a reputation. Some will call this brand awareness, I call it the ‘bad boy’ image. Do they deserve it? Probably not. As I said they are similar to any of the others who escaped this spotlight. That’s not the point. The point is rightly or wrongly Juul bring this negative image with them.

Of course, this isn’t Juuls fault, it’s the result of the USA’s reefer madness level anti-vaping hysteria. The manufactured panic seems to have found its poster bad boy in Juul and in demonizing it managed to make it the most popular product to demonize the whole vaping market with. I’m not sure it’s even the most popular vaping product though it draws huge media attention as this rubbish article in the Irish Times shows.

Applegreen starts selling Juul e-cigarettes

Applegreen have been selling pod systems long before Juul, Vype must feel left out.

Not just media though, our public health alphabet soup groups also get their knickers in a twist at the mention of Juul. Exhibit 1, page 10 of this sad and factually inaccurate report.

E-cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products: An evidence review

Notice how there is no mention of the Juul’s main selling point in the American market, the 5% nic content or the fact that Juul in the EU cannot by law have this. Like everyone else they are restricted to max 2% nic., It seems for all the talk about nicotine being the danger, it’s the branding they hate. Again none of this is Juul’s fault, to be fair to them they started with a product for adults, marketed to adults and purchased by adults. Until public health caught on to the value of a single recognizable brand to focus their vitriol on. Ironically, they actually helped them by increasing brand awareness and in a “shooting yourself in the foot” moment made Juul a verb among teens. Exactly what they claimed they were trying to prevent.

Right now here in Ireland, there is enough anti-vaping hysteria in the media and enough anti-vaping lobbying going on without giving them a Juul shaped bullseye target to focus their campaign on. There must have been cries of delight when Juul announced a European launch from anti-vaping lobbyists because now they have a focus and loads of readymade propaganda from the States to recycle over here.

Juul may not add all that much that’s new to the selection of options but they are another option. The more options for smokers the better. If smokers want to use Juul that’s their right. If kids want to use Juul, well, currently that’s their right too, as our tobacco controllers forgot to include an over 18 age limit when imposing the TPD two years ago.

HSE TPD page.

It seems only Juul themselves thought to restrict adult products to adults.

Juul pulls vape products after retailer Challenge 25 failures

Anti-vaping hysteria is already in overdrive and Juul will only give them more ammunition to use. Not based on facts but on a brand and image that they themselves created.

As I said at the start, I which they never set foot here, our job as harm reduction advocates is hard enough.

So what could Juul do to counter this? Conform to TPD rules? Go beyond TPD rules? Restrict their marketing to instore only? They have done all of this but it has not reduced the fearmongering one iota.

You have to wonder what exactly makes them think that their product will outsell any of the others in the segment who escape the headlines and don’t impose self-regulation above the legally mandated ones?

Call me suspicious but I doubt the plan is to outspend the others by losing money until only Juul is left.

If I were CEO of Juul, I would be lobbying my arse off to get further restrictions on the competition, I being an evil cut-throat capitalist would lobby for all vaping devices to be restricted to the exact specs of my product while securing all the distribution networks outside of independent shops because that’s the only way I can survive with the white heat of anti harm reduction bearing down on me. I would accept defeat in the fight against sin taxes, regulators always favor a product that raises revenue. In fact, I might mention to them that I wouldn’t be averse to my customers paying taxes. But that’s me.

Juul could just be willing to stake everything on a hare of the inevitable reduced harm product market because they care about reducing the harm of smoking. After all, there are enough smokers to make that market worth a share of and if tobacco control keeps up the good work, it won’t be going anywhere soon.

And after all that I better add a link to Juul’s website, it’s only fair.

Over 18’s only 😉

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