US vape brand Juul enters PH to offer smokers alternative to cigarettes

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Juul Labs, which claims to be the leading vapor brand in the US, made its official launch in the country on Thursday, June 20, with the unveiling of its Juul vapor device and Juulpods.

Juul has entered into an exclusive partnership with Better For You (BFY) Corporation, a Gokongwei-owned company, to distribute Juul products in the country.

Juul Labs was co-founded by graduate students Adam Bowen and James Monsees, who were once smokers themselves. They started designing concepts for alternatives in the mid-2000s while at Stanford University. It was in 2015 that Juul was first launched in the US, after a decade of research and development.

Juul works through a closed vaping system with pods and has a patented temperature control design. Without buttons or switches, Juul is free from ash and odor.

“Juul Labs has a fundamental global mission to improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers, and we are showing unprecedented signs of success in achieving our mission in the markets in which we operate. We created Juul with the adult smoker in mind, to give them a product that is a simple, clean and satisfying alternative to cigarette smoking,” said Adam Bowen, co-founder and chief technology officer at Juul Labs.  

The Philippines is home to over 16 million adult smokers, which make up 23% of the adult population. Roughly 10 Filipinos die every hour due to smoking-related causes, and almost 19% of all deaths in the country are caused by smoking-related diseases like lung cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Every year, the smoking epidemic translates to roughly P270 billion in healthcare costs and productivity losses, equivalent to 1.9% of the country’s GDP. The Philippines continues to have one of the highest rates of smoking in Asia, creating concerns that continued tobacco dependence as a key development issue that impacts well-being, productivity, and overall quality of life.

Yet, adult smokers have limited options beyond traditional combustible cigarettes. A WHO survey conducted in 2015 showed that of 77% of adult smokers have tried to quit, but only 4% were able to successfully do so.

Ken Bishop, president for Asia Pacfic South at Juul Labs, said: “In the US, we are seeing a major disruption of the tobacco industry, largely driven by JUUL. Cigarette pack sales volumes are now declining at an unprecedented -11.2% year-on-year as smokers switch to less harmful alternatives. Working in collaboration with local partners, civil society, regulators, and lawmakers, we hope to have the same disruptive impact here in the Philippines.”

BFY Corporation president Nilo Mapa said during the launch, said the company shares Juul Labs’ goal of improving the lives of Filipino adult smokers by providing viable alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

“We believe that through this partnership, can offer over 16 million Filipino adult smokers an effective option to combustible cigarettes,” he said.

The Juul device will be available in slate and silver and sold as a Device Kit (one Juul Device and one USB Charging Dock) at P1,600. Juulpods will be available in a two-pod Refill Kit for P350. Users can also buy an extra USB Charging Dock for P500.

They will come in two nicotine strengths (3% and 5%) and are available in four flavors (Virginia Tobacco, Mango, Mint, and Crème) to meet the distinct needs of adult smokers.

Juul products are available at all FUMA and Lighters Galore stores, and at other select vape stores. It will also be available later this month at select Ministop, Robinsons Supermarket, Shell Select, and 7-11 stores.

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