With patented nicotine salt technology, JUUL dominates the e-cigarette market. We reviewed studies of JUUL’s nicotine pharmacokinetic profile and studies quantifying nicotine in a JUULpod, emitted in the aerosol and absorbed by users. Examined in eight studies, JUUL’s peak nicotine levels were half to three-quarters that of a combustible cigarette in industry-conducted studies with JUUL-naïve users, while comparable to or greater than combustible cigarettes in independent studies of experienced e-cigarette users. JUUL Labs reports each 5% (nicotine-by-weight) cartridge contains approximately 40 mg nicotine per pod and is ‘approximately equivalent to about 1 pack of cigarettes.’ In five independent studies, nicotine in the liquid in a JUULpod ranged from 39.3 to 48.3 mg. Seven studies measured nicotine delivery via vaping-machine generated aerosols, varying in puffing regimes and equipment. One study estimated 68% transfer efficiency to the aerosol, measuring 28.8 mg nicotine per JUULpod. The other studies reported nicotine values ranging from 72 to 164 µg/puff. At 200 puffs, this is 14.4–32.8 mg of nicotine per pod with equivalence to 13–30 cigarettes. A study measuring nicotine levels in JUUL users during a 5-day controlled switch found equivalence to 18 cigarettes. One JUULpod appears capable of delivering the nicotine equivalent to smoking about a pack of cigarettes, with variability. In JUUL-naïve smokers, JUUL’s nicotine boost was lower than that of combustible cigarettes; while in experienced users, JUUL was comparable. Minimising harshness and adaptive to user experience, JUUL’s design facilitates initiation to a high nicotine, and ultimately, highly addictive vaping product.
- electronic nicotine delivery devices
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Contributors All three authors contributed to this special communication. JJP initiated the search and wrote the first draft, which was edited and modified by NB and EAV. EAV contributed to the literature search. All authors have approved the final version.
Competing interests JJP and NB have served as expert witnesses against the tobacco companies in lawsuits for which they have received fees for the work. They have also provided consultation to pharmaceutical and technology companies that make medications and other treatments for quitting smoking.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.