Netflix’s ‘Big Vape’ exposes Juul’s rise and fall

Big Vape

Netflix’s new docuseries, “Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul”, explores how a sleek e-cigarette that promised to make smoking obsolete became a public health nightmare for millions of teens and young adults.

Big Vape

Juul: The iPhone of e-cigs

The docuseries, based on the book by Jamie Ducharme, traces the origins of Juul, a device that was hailed as the “iPhone of e-cigs” by Wired magazine in 2015. Juul was created by two Stanford graduates, James Monsees and Adam Bowen, who wanted to design a better alternative to traditional cigarettes. Juul’s innovative features included a USB-shaped design, a patented nicotine salt formula, and a variety of flavors that appealed to adult smokers.

However, as the docuseries reveals, Juul’s success came at a high cost. The device quickly became popular among underage users, who were attracted by its discreet appearance, high nicotine content, and social media presence. Juul’s marketing campaign, which featured young and trendy models in colorful settings, was accused of targeting teens and mimicking the tactics of Big Tobacco. According to the docuseries, Juul’s founders and executives ignored or downplayed the signs of youth addiction and failed to take adequate measures to prevent it.

The backlash against Juul

The docuseries also chronicles the backlash that Juul faced from regulators, lawmakers, activists, parents, and educators, who blamed the company for fueling a new epidemic of nicotine addiction among young people. In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to Juul, accusing it of making unauthorized claims that its products were safer than cigarettes. The same year, several states and cities banned or restricted the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, which accounted for more than 80% of Juul’s sales. Juul also faced hundreds of lawsuits from individuals, school districts, and state attorneys general, alleging that the company deceived consumers and endangered public health.

One of the most controversial moves that Juul made was accepting a $12.8 billion investment from Altria, the parent company of Marlboro maker Philip Morris USA, in 2018. The deal gave Altria a 35% stake in Juul and a seat on its board. Many critics saw this as a betrayal of Juul’s original mission to end smoking and a sign of its alignment with Big Tobacco. The docuseries features interviews with former Juul employees, whistleblowers, researchers, journalists, and activists who offer their perspectives on Juul’s rise and fall.

The future of vaping

The docuseries ends with an update on the current status of Juul and the vaping industry. In 2020, Juul announced that it would stop selling all flavored pods in the US except for tobacco and menthol. The company also said that it would cut its workforce by more than half and exit several international markets. In 2021, Juul agreed to pay $40 million to settle a lawsuit in North Carolina that accused it of targeting teens. The company still faces ongoing litigation in other states and federal investigations by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission.

Meanwhile, the FDA is reviewing thousands of applications from e-cigarette makers who want to keep their products on the market. The agency has until September 9 to decide whether these products are appropriate for the protection of public health. The docuseries suggests that the fate of Juul and other vaping products will depend on how the FDA balances the potential benefits for adult smokers who want to quit and the potential harms for youth who may start or continue vaping.

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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