One of the most controversial topics of the past year has been vaping. What was once promoted as a tool to help smokers kick the habit has transformed into its own industry. While vaping certainly has success stories regarding people who quit smoking by way of vaping, it’s the newcomers to the industry that have left a lot of people concerned.
According to a 2018 survey on vaping, nearly 1.9 million Americans have vaped but never tried smoking. This goes to show the staying power of vaping and shows how vaping has carved its niche in the big tobacco industry. When you factor in that nicotine is notoriously one of the hardest drugs to quit, it’s easy to see why the controversy has started over vaping.
What’s the Controversy With Vaping?
A big concern with vaping is how much it has impacted people’s health. Especially because of black market vapes, which, as noted by the Washington Post, have made over 150 teens sick and led to several deaths. The primary culprit in these deaths and illnesses has been THC (the psychoactive component to marijuana) cartridges or pens that are cut with Vitamin E oil. Although THC cartridges haven’t been determined to be the culprit, many experts are hypothesizing that it is the largest contributor to the problems vape users experience.
While the black market THC vapes have been the main contributor to illnesses across the board, congressional lawmakers (as well as President Trump) have attributed flavored nicotine vaping products to be a factor. Although it’s true that flavored vapes have led to an uptick in teen use (an estimated 1 in 9 under 18 currently vape), there is no substantial evidence to prove that these products are the causes of these illnesses. This begs the question: how will the tobacco industry combat this?
One of the biggest stories out of big tobacco was how the vaping scare affected Phillip Morris and Altria’s merger. This merger was set to bring the two companies back together as a powerhouse in the world of big tobacco. Although both stock prices increased shortly after the announcement of the vaping scare, there’s no word regarding if the two companies will get back to the negotiation table. Especially with the potential repercussion of congress’s crackdown on Altria’s flagship purchase of JUUL, which Altria owns a 35 percent share of. However, despite all of the controversy surrounding JUUL, flavored vaping, or even nicotine use in general, there are entrepreneurs who are looking at this crisis as an opportunity to lend a helping hand.
The (FLUUX) Future of Vaping
Chadwick Manning, the co-founder of FLUUX and Forbes 30-under-30-in-energy list member, believes that giving vape users analytics and supportive resources can help reduce the damage created by the vaping epidemic. Manning’s solution resolves several problems Juul users face. Manning knew that JUUL users frequently lose their JUUL, that their JUUL runs out of battery at the most inconvenient times, and that some JUUL users are trying to quit. So, to combat this, he created the FLUUX, a phone case that is a charger for both your JUUL and phone, with a built-in location on the case to store your JUUL and an app that gives users insight into their vaping habits and helps them quit vaping altogether.
The FLUUX app will have a doctor-approved Vaping Cessation feature that will include a coach with weekly meetings, off-the-cuff check-ins, doctor’s visits, prescribed medications, restrictions on pod-reordering, and will connect users that are trying to quit in a forum-like setting to get the support they need. The purpose of the app is to help users wean off nicotine and quit vaping altogether.
Where This Market Is Headed (and How Fluux Wants to Impact It)
The idea is that getting people to a healthier place in life starts with their consumption and self-awareness. While it’s easy to deny how bad addiction really is, Manning’s goal is to put the numbers right in front of vape users by leveraging analytics and using features in the FLUUX app to help users cut back and eventually quit. By providing people with information, access, and support, the team at FLUUX is looking to minimize the damage the vaping epidemic has done to individuals around the nation.
It is becoming clear that vaping is the new ‘big tobacco,’ but entrepreneurs like Manning are looking to change how we look at our consumption by taking a holistic approach. While vaping is certainly a popular trend right now, Manning isn’t naive to the fact that it has negatively impacted some people’s lives, which is why his company is looking to help make a positive change in the industry.
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