Vaping Isn’t Going Anywhere, But One E-Cigarette Company is Using Tech to Make it (a Little) Safer

Women working on Juul

Vaping, whether we want to admit it or not, is having one heck of a moment. But while e-cigarettes offer a somewhat safer option than regular old smokes, let’s get one thing straight: safer doesn’t necessarily mean safe. Luckily, one e-cigarette company that has rocketed to sky-scraping popularity in the US is utilizing its current momentum to look to a more responsible future: adding in personalized tech to at least inch us towards safer use.

This move largely comes in response to concerns over Juul’s prolific use among teenagers,  which was a main topic of discussion for Juul co-founder James Monsees as he spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco about the company’s big future plans.

Juul aims to introduce a new ‘connected’ device in 2019 – as long as they can keep the FDA on board – that will give Juul users more power over usage and authentication, and even help them quit if they want to.

Here’s how it will work: the small flash-drive reminiscent vape will be connected to a user’s phone, allowing each person to track how much they’re inhaling and how often. If that person wants to decrease their Juuling (the verb form has become nearly as ubiquitous as Ubering or Instagramming) by, say, 20 percent, the software will help guide them to achieving that goal.

In regards to those pesky teens, the new devices will also have a ‘youth prevention feature set’ which will only allow the Juul to be used when its within proximity to the owner’s phone.

“If I drop my Juul in this chair and I walk away, and the next [person who] comes up is 12 years old…they’re not going to be able to use the product,” Monsees told the audience at Disrupt. When the device returns to the phone’s location, it will immediately work again without any intervention from the owner.

But technology can only go so far in solving Juul’s problems. Their sweet, candy-esque flavors of the refillable pods are a sticking point for critics, but are also widely enjoyed by adults who can legally indulge in them. In order to further combat growing use among the young population, Juul announced that it will invest in a $30 million initiative working to educate the public on the responsible enjoyment of e-cigarettes.

Monsees said that the company doesn’t want to be just a new iteration of Big Tobacco. “We cannot be holding people hostage, so to speak, and nor should anyone feel that way – the way that they may have felt with cigarettes in the past.”