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Everyone Wants In On the E-Cigarette Game. Is That Smart?

Say Contributor

As JUUL begins to look vulnerable, a slew of challengers to the vape crowd are emerging. Who Wants the Smoke? JUUL, which is owned by nicotine kings and Marlboro manufacturers Altria, has faced criticism from lawmakers for (among other things) marketing its product to teenagers. The anti-smoking advocacy group Truth found that 15- 17-year-olds are over 16 times likelier odds to be JUUL users compared to those aged 25-34. In response to a “request” from the Food and Drug Administration, JUUL pulled its teen-friendly fruit-flavors from retailers, though they are still available online. But JUUL’s competitors, sensing an opportunity, have moved to fill the void. NJOY To the World The independent New York company NJOY sells its e-cigarettes for 99 cents in stores, as opposed to the $7.99 it charges online, or JUUL’s online cost of $34.99. When it comes to electronic cigarettes, users buy the device once, and the companies make money in the long run from the sale of “pod” refills, which tend to not be interchangeable with other devices. The steep discount is seen as a clear way to get customers to switch over. Despite the criticism JUUL faced, NJOY continues to offer fruit flavors such as watermelon twist and blueberry. Feeling Blu Other e-cigarette competitors are following NJOY’s lead and offering deep discounts to lure customers to try their brand, British American Tobacco’s Vuse offers Alto vapes for 99 cents online, down from $24.99, as a bonus when someone buys a pack of pods, and the Miami-based mobile company Blu is offering their myblu device for $1, down from the normal $19.99. But…. JUUL still dominates the e-cigarette market at 71.4%. The electronic cigarette industry is booming, but considering that JUUL is beset on all sides by criticisms from lawmakers (the Center for Disease Control recently announced an investigation into a “cluster” of lung illnesses that could possibly be related to e-cigarette use) and further legal restrictions and investigations could be forthcoming, it might not be the safest investment. -Michael Tedder Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters