Users of Juul should get ready to say goodbye to their favorite vape.
Fans of the brand said they liked how simple it was after the Food and Drug Administration ruled against the company. A leather worker in Detroit said, “I’ll miss the Juuls for sure.”
Tim Marchman had been smoking for about 25 years and was ready to stop. But he didn’t want to become what he calls a “vape guy,” someone who spends hours in specialty shops choosing from dozens of electronic nicotine delivery devices, many of which are very complicated. So he chose what seemed like the easiest option: Juul, a brand that for a while was almost a synonym for vaping.
In an interview, Mr. Marchman, an editor at the tech and science site Motherboard for Vice Media, said, “Juul is the default.” “All you have to do is plug it in.”
Unlike some other brands of e-cigarettes, Juul was also easy to find. Mr. Marchman said, “They have it at gas stations in the middle of nowhere.”
This is probably going to change.
The Food and Drug Administration told Juul Labs on Thursday that it can’t sell its devices in the United States because the company hasn’t given enough and conflicting information about potentially harmful chemicals that could leak out of Juul’s e-liquid pods. On Friday, a federal court gave the company a temporary reprieve and let it keep its e-cigarettes in stores while the F.D.A. order is looked at by the courts.
Like other former smokers who switched to e-cigarettes, Mr. Marchman says he has no plans to start smoking again, even if he can’t get his favorite brand of e-cigarettes. Still, he wonders how the F.D.A. order might affect his habit.
Mr. Marchman, who is 43 and lives in Philadelphia, asked, “Do I have to bring my vape juice with me if I go out of the country?” “Where do I get it? I’m not even sure where to find it in Philadelphia.”
The F.D.A. order came after years of complaints about how Juul products might be bad for your health and how they appealed to teenagers with sweet flavors like mango, crème brûlée, and mint, as well as with marketing campaigns aimed at young people.
James Monsees and Adam Bowen, two entrepreneurs who came up with the idea for a tobacco alternative while they were graduate students at Stanford University and taking a smoke break, started the company that would become Juul Labs in 2007. When Juuls first came out on the market in 2015, the brand became very popular, thanks in part to a fun ad campaign that showed young people smiling, laughing, and striking poses under the word “Vaporized.”
By 2018, Juul had become so popular that the word “juul” was used as a verb. Teens would “juul” in high school classrooms and hallways without anyone knowing. Altria, which owns Philip Morris, agreed to pay $13 billion for a 35% stake in Juul Labs that same year.
Then, a lot of state attorneys general filed lawsuits against the company, saying that its ads made teenagers more likely to start smoking. In 2019 and 2021, Juul had to pay tens of millions of dollars to settle the cases. The rise and fall of the company, from Silicon Valley success story to public health pariah, was told in “Move Fast and Vape Things,” a 2021 documentary by The New York Times.
Even though Juul lost business after it cut back on advertising because of the lawsuits, it was still one of the most visible and well-known brands of e-cigarettes on the market. Matthew Luther, who is 31 and lives in Detroit and fixes leather goods, was upset when he heard about the possible ban.
“I’ll miss the Juuls for sure,” said Mr. Luther, who is 31. “I like the way they looked better. They are easy to carry around in your pocket, and you can put more in them.
Like the other people interviewed for this article, he liked how simple the Juul device, which looks like a flash drive, was. “The ban makes no sense,” he said.
The F.D.A. decision came out just as Mr. Luther was using more Juul products. He said, “I think it’s just life, stress, and the fact that I’ve been trying to stop smoking.”
In recent years, Juul’s competitors, like Puff Bar, have grown. But for many people, Juul is still as much a part of vaping as Kleenex is of tissues.
Jenny Mathison, who started using Juul in 2018, said, “When I think of e-cigarettes, I think of Juul.” She also said that it was the only alternative to nicotine she had found that helped her give up the Marlboro habit she had picked up in high school.
Ms. Mathison, who is 54 and lives in Rancho Mirage, California, and takes care of her disabled husband full-time, said she would probably switch to Vuse, a competing brand, if the FDA goes through.
If the F.D.A. order is upheld, it could turn Mr. Marchman, an editor in Philadelphia, into the kind of person he has long feared becoming: a vape guy.
Mr. Marchman said, “I’m going to end up with some weird vaping rig that I don’t fully understand.” “I’ll have to choose a device and test out different juices. “This is going to be a big deal.”