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move fast and vape things

JUUL’s wildly successful, very silicon valley business has a serious bug

In 2004, Stanford grad students Adam Bowen and James Monsees set out to reinvent the tobacco industry. In 2015 their company, Juul Labs Inc., began selling e-cigarettes and flavored nicotine pods that were twice as potent as many competing vape rigs. By the following winter, “Juuling” was a verb. The two men, former smokers, said their goal was to save millions of lives a year by helping smokers switch. “Fifty years from now, nobody’s going to be smoking cigarettes,” Bowen said in a promotional video. “They’re going to look back and think, Oh, my God, I can’t believe people used to do that.”

He may be right, but the question today is what happens to Juul. It’s facing investigations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, a congressional inquiry, dozens of lawsuits, and, reportedly, a criminal probe by the Department of Justice. San Francisco has banned the sale and distribution of e-cigs. On Oct. 7, Kroger Co. announced it would stop selling them, joining Walmart Inc. and other retailers. Regulators are investigating whether Juul illegally marketed its products as healthier than cigarettes, and to minors.

Juul’s USB-drive-looking vaporizers and sweetened flavors, with names like mango, cucumber, and creme, may well help longtime smokers give up a cancer-causing habit. But they’ve also attracted millions of nonsmokers, including—as America’s parents and assistant principals know all too well—a lot of kids. Researchers warn that Juul’s high-nicotine pods and Instagram marketing could be undoing decades of antismoking gains. For many teens, Juul has become a fact of life, as have memes such as a bathroom-wall sign that reads, “Absolutely no peeing in the Juul room.”

The company said in an

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