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Juul’s New Product: Less Nicotine, More Intense Vapor

Category: Science,Science & Tech

The San Francisco-based Juul, which began selling its vaping device by the same name in 2015, has now captured more than 70 percent of the e-cigarette market share in the United States. Its success has been met with harsh public criticism over an epidemic of teenage vaping, and increasing government pressure to stop it.

Earlier this month, facing a deadline from the Food and Drug Administration, Juul announced major changes in its sales and marketing practices aimed at reducing youth access to its devices and popular flavored pods.

A sleek, electronic device that looks like an elongated flash drive, Juul works by heating a liquid flavor pod that contains nicotine and benzoic acid. When Juul users inhale, they get a very quick and powerful burst of nicotine.

The F.D.A.’s biggest public health goal in this administration has been getting smokers to quit, and reducing the 480,000 annual deaths in the United States from cigarette-related disease. To do so, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner, has encouraged the development of alternatives like e-cigarettes and, early in his tenure, extended the deadline for them to meet tough new agency rules.

But this strategy backfired when Juul and other e-cigarettes became immensely popular with youths, and the agency recently restricted sales of certain flavors that appeal to youths.

The other half of the F.D.A.’s plan is to reduce nicotine to nonaddictive levels in traditional cigarettes. The agency has started that process, but the tobacco companies have made clear they will fight it. There has been no agency announcement yet regarding limits on nicotine in e-cigarettes.

Experts in e-cigarette engineering said there were a number of ways Juul could amp up the vapor, or aerosol, in its products. Edward Hensel, associate dean of engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology, said one way is by adjusting the heating coil, inside the flavor pod.

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