The most popular and controversial American vaping brand is now taking aim at the second-largest vape market in the world. The JUUL went on sale this week in the U.K. — but the product will be significantly different than the device that’s making U.S. tobacco companies shake in their boots.
The JUUL starter kit in the U.K. retails for £29.99, which translates to about $10 less than its American counterpart, which costs $49.99. The kits features four JUUL pods, and the flavors look similar to the U.S. versions (the names are slightly different). But the biggest difference is the nicotine content.
Because the nicotine level is limited by the rules of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), the British JUUL pods use 20 mg/mL e-liquid (1.7 percent by weight). That is about one-third the nicotine found in an American JUUL pod, which offers cigarette smokers a very satisfying 59 mg/mL. (JUUL Labs recently announced new, lower nicotine JUUL pods for the U.S. market too, but they still have almost twice the nicotine of the British pods.)
Will the lower-nicotine pods work as well for smokers as the American version? It’s difficult to see how they could. The tiny JUUL battery and atomizer doesn’t deliver enough vapor to make low nicotine content feel cigarette-like to smokers. The U.K. version uses nicotine salt e-liquid too (like the American pods), which will lessen the throat hit of the already low nic.
And JUUL will be competing with lots of other JUUL alternatives that have equal nicotine content. Since JUUL isn’t a household name in the U.K. — except possibly among vapers who pay attention to international trends — it’s questionable whether smokers or new vapers will prefer the JUUL over brands that use freebase nicotine, which delivers a more noticeable nicotine sensation.
The JUUL, which has been the subject of an organized campaign of disinformation in the U.S., will be available in 250 British vape shops by the end of this week, according to Reuters. Unlike in the U.S., where the JUUL website sells only to those 21 and over, the British JUUL site sells online to 18-year-olds. Because the U.K. has accepted vaping much more readily than the U.S., the rollout of JUUL isn’t expected to ignite any particular controversy.
The four flavors available in the starter kit are the only ones available on the British JUUL site for online ordering too, although there is a fifth, flavor (Apple Orchard) sold only in retail locations. That flavor isn’t sold in the U.S. at all. Online a four-pod pack costs £9.99 (about $13) — considerably less than the $15.99 U.S. price.
The JUUL is also sold currently in Israel. JUUL Labs is apparently planning a launch soon in Asia. LinkedIn is hosting multiple JUUL job listings for high-level positions in Singapore. And Reuters reports that the JUUL will arrive soon in France, Germany, and Italy.