E-cig company Juul is diving further into health with an app geared toward turning smokers into Juulers

  • Juul makes the most popular e-cigarette in America. The company has also been tied to a controversy around youth vaping.
  • Eager to show that its sleek devices can help adult smokers, Juul is increasingly pushing into healthcare.
  • As Business Insider reported exclusively earlier this month, Juul has been mulling the creation of a digital health tool geared at smokers.
  • Now, job postings reveal more information about Juul’s plans. Juul is seeking to make an app geared at turning smokers into Juulers, the postings show.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The e-cigarette company Juul plans to create a mobile app geared at helping smokers use its device instead

Juul’s sleek devices are the most popular e-cigarette in America and have been tied to a vaping epidemic in teens. But clinicians also see huge promise in e-cigarettes’ potential to improve smokers’ health. Eager to show that its devices can be part of this positive shift, Juul is increasingly pushing into healthcare.

In a handful of recent job openings across multiple teams, Juul outlines plans to create a mobile app that would help ensure that Juul users continue to use their devices while curbing their use of burned cigarettes. Juul calls this behaviour change “switching.”

One recent position, for example, involves overseeing the creation of a new mobile app that would encourage customers to use its devices, “all while helping smokers achieve their switching goals.”

Juul is also creating a new program aimed at giving third-party apps access to Juul customer data, such as detailed information on their use habits. That could include data on things like the milligrams of nicotine they inhale in each puff of a Juul, according to one posting.

As Business Insider reported earlier this month, Juul was also hiring for a new behavioural health role that included work on an app that it called a “mobile health-based intervention.” That position is now closed, and it is unclear how much the teams might work together.

Since the Juul launched in 2015, the company has grown exponentially. Late last year, the tobacco giant Altria invested almost $US13 billion in Juul, valuing the company at about $US38 billion. Juul, which is based in San Francisco, is currently hiring for more than 500 positions in 16 countries.

A Juul spokesperson declined to comment on this story.

Juul’s recent makeover and its push into health

Juul has undergone a makeover in recent years as it works to position itself as a serious alternative to smoking.

The company has faced scrutiny for its popularity among young people. At the center of the debate is a launch campaign that the company kicked off with a promotional party. The campaign featured images of young models on bright, colourful backgrounds and included ads on social media.

Beginning this year, Juul started publishing health research as it works to move from buzzy startup to established company.

A big aim of that research is to show that its high-nicotine e-cigarettes might help smokers take up a healthier habit than using combustible cigarettes. Last month, the company financed a study which provided the first clear evidence that some people are using Juul e-cigarettes to cut back on smoking.

The app and Juul’s behavioural research work would likely complement those efforts.

Erik Augustson, a former program director at the National Cancer Institute, is leading Juul’s behavioural research team, a Juul spokesperson told Business Insider earlier this month. At NCI, Augustson worked on initiatives to get people to stop smoking, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Augustson’s team will also conduct more research into patterns of use among adults and youth and explore the kinds of factors that might play a role in whether someone uses the Juul to switch away from traditional cigarettes. Currently, the team is focused on submitting an application to have its products approved by regulators at the Food and Drug Administration, the Juul spokesperson said.

Christopher Russell, the lead author of the study Juul published last month and a psychologist at the Scotland-based research consulting firm CSUR, previously told Business Insider that he believes more e-cigarette companies should be working on behavioural tools. Those tools could be mobile apps that connect customers with a network of peers or motivational videos, he said.

As part of Juul’s behavioural research program, its researchers are studying 100,000 participants, a Juul spokesperson told Business Insider this week. They are looking to learn whether and how these people change their smoking habits as they use the Juul over the course of up to a year.