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Juul Labs piloting connected device in Canada

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 12.18.17 PMOn the back of opening its first retail store last week, Juul Labs Canada is debuting its new Juul C1, the company’s connected device, which includes features that allow users to monitor their nicotine usage, provide access restrictions to prevent unauthorized use and find their Juul device if it is lost.

“Our retail store will be a place where we can speak directly with adult smokers about our products, including our connected device, as they look to switch from combustible cigarettes to a less harmful alternative,” said Michael Nederhoff, general manager, Juul Labs Canada, said in a release.

The new Juul C1 connected device can be paired via Bluetooth to a new mobile application. The app is being piloted in Canada to explore and refine its functionalities. The connected device is available on Juul.ca to Juul online account holders with Android smartphones and for sale at the new retail store.

The device, when paired with the app, will include a usage monitor that provides adult smokers with greater visibility into their usage, allowing them to monitor in real-time the number of puffs they take daily, weekly and monthly. The connected device will also provide access restrictions at the user level to prevent unauthorized use and provides adult smokers with the ability to find their Juul device if it is lost.

“As a company, we are always looking to build on our product portfolio to reach a broader range of smokers, while limiting appeal to youth,” said Nederhoff. “We believe the connected device will provide current adult smokers with features they will find valuable. Based on feedback, we plan to refine and enhance the functionality of the app to further improve the user experience.”

The pilot program will continue to run over the coming weeks. JUUL Labs Canada will evaluate feedback and determine whether to expand the device and app further in the country.


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Juul opens first North American store in Toronto

UnknownE-cigarette maker Juul is opening its first retail store in Canada .

The Juul store in Toronto’s west-end, which opened to customers Monday, marks the California-based company’s first brick-and-mortar location in North America.

The stores opens mid mounting concern about the rise of teen vaping. Upon entering, Juul says all visitors will be asked to provide identification to prove they meet Ontario’s legal age of 19 to purchase vaping products before they can pass through the clouded glass doors concealing the offerings from public view.

Those who gain entry will find Juul’s devices and cartridges laid out on tables in the sleek showroom style of an Apple store. Patrons can interact with the devices, but not test them, because vaping is prohibited indoors.

At a media preview this week, Michael Nederhoff, general manager of Juul Labs in Canada, said the store was designed to be an “educational venue” for adult smokers looking to learn about vaping.

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But as Juul has emerged as Canada’s leading vaping brand, critics say the company is at risk of creating a new generation of nicotine addicts in light of recent research suggesting that the prevalence of teenage vaping has nearly doubled.

In May 2018, Ottawa formally legalized vaping, opening the door for international vaping brands such as Juul to enter the Canadian market.

Since then, Juul has captured a 78% share of Canada’s vape market, with its products available at more than 13,000 vape shops and convenience stores across the country, said Nederhoff.

Nick Kadysh, Juul’s director of government relations, said the company sees youth vaping as “completely unacceptable” and has taken steps to prevent its products from getting into the wrong hands.

He cited efforts such as using third-party age verification for online sales, and sending secret shoppers to check roughly 150 stores per month to make sure they’re carding customers and following Juul’s restrictions on bulk purchases. He said retailers who don’t comply may either be “blacklisted” or reported to Health Canada.

But David Hammond, a public health professor at the University of Waterloo, said Juul and other e-cigarette makers need to go further to stem the 74% surge in vaping by Canadian teens that his research suggests.

Hammond led a study published in the British Medical Journal in June based on online surveys of Canadians aged 16 to 19 in 2017 and 2018.

The researchers found that the number of Canadian teens who said they had vaped in the last month increased to 14.6% in 2018 from 8.4% in 2017.

Hammond said the 2018 surveys straddled the month before and after Juul hit stores in Canada, and within weeks of becoming available, the brand had surged to become the third most popular among Canadian teens.

He said the brand’s soaring sales in Canada are particularly alarming in light of trends in the U.S., where researchers found the increase in Juul use accounted for more than two-thirds of the overall rise in youth vaping.

Last week, Juul executives were called before U.S. Congress to field questions from lawmakers about whether the company tried to market its products to youth.

House members pointed to internal documents indicating that Juul planned to push its products on social media and offered funding to schools for anti-vaping education in a program that was quashed after the company learned that big tobacco had backed similar anti-smoking efforts decades earlier.

Juul executives in Canada said neither of those strategies were attempted in Canada, and the company has even advocated for Ottawa to ban social media marketing of vaping products.

Earlier this year, Health Canada proposed new measures to ban the promotion of e-cigarettes in public places, stores and media where young people are likely to encounter them, including point-of-sale advertisements.

Kadysh said the restriction would hinder Juul’s ability to reach adult smokers when they’re buying cigarettes at their local convenience store and encourage them to switch to what is believed to be a less harmful alternative.

For Hammond, this reluctance speaks volumes about Juul’s commitment to preventing youth vaping.

“I think it is (disingenuous) at best for any company to suggest that those types of ads don’t reach kids when it is literally inches from the candy,” he said.

Last month, San Francisco banned the sale of e-cigarettes in a bid to curb underage use. But Hammond said he doesn’t think a similar prohibition would be feasible or desirable in Canada.

“We can actually control these products more by having them regulated than just trying to push them under the blanket,” he said.

“I think it would be a shame if we had to ban them outright because of their potential to help with adult smokers, but we need to find some way of reducing access to kids for sure.”

The retail store will sell JUUL C1, the company’s connected device, which includes features that allow users to monitor their nicotine usage, provide access restrictions to prevent unauthorized use and find their JUUL device if it is lost.

The JUUL C1 connected device can be paired via Bluetooth to a new mobile application. The app is being piloted in Canada to explore and refine its functionalities.

The device, when paired with the app, will include a usage monitor that provides adult smokers with greater visibility into their usage, allowing them to monitor in real-time the number of puffs they take daily, weekly and monthly. The connected device will also provide access restrictions at the user level to prevent unauthorized use and provides adult smokers with the ability to find their JUUL device if it is lost.

“As a company, we are always looking to build on our product portfolio to reach a broader range of smokers, while limiting appeal to youth,” said Nederhoff. “We believe the connected device will provide current adult smokers with features they will find valuable. Based on feedback, we plan to refine and enhance the functionality of the app to further improve the user experience.”

The pilot program will continue to run over the coming weeks. JUUL Labs Canada will evaluate feedback and determine whether to expand the device and app further in the country.

With files from Michelle Warren


Juul considers opening stores in Texas: Reports

E-cigarette maker and vape company Juul Labs is exploring plans to open its own U.S. retail shops, according to The Wall Street Journal and other U.S-based news outlets.

While the company has not released any official statement on the matter, the reports cite an unnamed company insider as the source of the information.

Reuters reported: “The company has not made a final decision on the stores, which would only admit people aged 21 and above, the source added, asking not to be named as the matter is confidential.”

The reports come in the wake of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposing restrictions that would prohibit convenience stores and gas stations there from selling e-cigarette flavours other than tobacco, mint and menthol. Juul has a strong following for its mango, vanilla, fruit and cucumber flavoured pods.

Reuters said: “The first store would open in Texas, if the company were to go through with its plan, the source said, adding that Juul is eyeing cities with high smoking rates.”

According to the reports, Juul is exploring locations in Dallas and Houston and would only sell tobacco, mint and menthol flavours in its stores.


Vaping and c-stores: 6 burning questions answered

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 3.18.20 PMNot all that long ago, tobacco was the staple for c-stores across Canada. Cigarettes, by the package (large and small) and by the carton (large and small) lined shelves in full display of a steady stream of customers. Those days are gone. In their place are new customers looking to buy a product that has the allure of smoking without, potentially, containing the more than 4,000 chemicals in the typical cigarette.

Electronic cigarettes, commonly called e-cigarettes or simply e-cigs, and related products are becoming a staple for many tobacco smokers and a cadre of non-smokers. As a result, the product category offers convenience stores a new and growing opportunity to draw more customers into their premises more often. The category, however, is not without controversy.

As you enter this brave new world, it’s time to get to know this emerging category.

1. What is vaping?

Vaping refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling – or smoking – a vapour (aerosol) produced by products like e-cigarettes. Vaping products heat liquid formulations, called e-liquids, which are then inhaled.

According to Imperial Tobacco Canada, most vapour products are based on what is called a coil and wick technology. The coil, also known as an atomizer, heats a cotton wick that conveys the liquid, producing the vapour that is inhaled.

Vaping devices come in numerous shapes and sizes, a factor that has confused many in the c-store sector. Some products are small and resemble USB drives or pens. Others are much larger. Despite the diversity of options, however, there are only two types of vaping devices, Health Canada reports. An open system enables the device to be refilled. A closed system requires the whole product or the part that holds the e-liquid to be replaced.

There are also related systems and products including what are called heat-not-burn products that heat tobacco instead of burning it.

2. As a category, is vaping different from smoking?

Absolutely, says Rob Colucci of Fontem Canada – blu Vapour, whose overarching goal as a vaping product company is to transition adult smokers to something better and ultimately eliminate the consumption of combustible (smoking) tobacco. “As a category vapour has exponential growth potential,” he says. “The key to this goal is to help existing adult smokers switch by offering vaping products as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Health Canada recognizes and shares this goal, as is made clear on their website where it is noted that vaping is less harmful than smoking.”

3. How prevalent is vaping?

That is a difficult question to answer. A 2017 study from the University of Waterloo, Tobacco Use in Canada, found that in 2015, among Canadians 15 years and older a “substantial number” had tried e-cigarettes. The specific numbers look like this:

  • 13.2% (3.9 million) reported having ever tried an e-cigarette
  • 3.2% (approximately 946,000) used one in the past 30 days
  • 1.0% (roughly 308,000) reported daily use

The use of e-cigarettes is also growing in popularity, according to the report. That popularity appears to be global. In the U.S., for example, a national survey in 2016 found that roughly 4.5 per cent of the adult population were current e-cigarette users. Individuals under 35 accounted for more than half of this figure.

“The vaping market is relatively new and expected to grow rapidly as cigarette sales decline,” notes Michael Nederhoff, Canada’s general manager with JUUL Labs in Toronto. “Some estimate the yearly growth rate of this category is over 15 per cent and could cross $43 billion globally by 2023.”

4. What is the sales potential of e-cigarettes for c-stores?

“Vaping products present a big opportunity for convenience stores,” says Nederhoff. “Vapes are on their way to becoming a sizable product category for convenience store operators. Adult smokers are increasingly interested in what vaping technology has to offer. And regulators and industry are working hard to make sure these products are available in a responsible and controlled way.”

Charis Chrysochoidis, reduced risk products lead for Canada with JTI-Macdonald Corp., in Toronto, points out that the category is likely to expand given a regulatory reversal by Health Canada. “The sale of nicotine containing e-liquids was only legalized in May 2018, so we expect the category to grow over the next couple of years as more adult consumers discover alternative choices to their existing smoking and vaping products. And we think most of this growth will occur through convenience store sales.”

The margin on vape products is also superior to tobacco, notes Stewart Ingles, president of Hilary’s Salesmaster Inc, a national retail distributor based in Concord, Ont. “Convenience stores hardly ever get true dollar margins as they will with this category, so they need to embrace and promote within their stores based on the provincial legal rules.”

“This, in my opinion,” he adds, “is the most important new category to enter this market since the energy drinks.”

5. Will consumers switch from online to in-store?

There is another reason vaping is growing in Canada and has the potential to become a big category in c-stores, says Peter Luongo, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc.’s managing director in Toronto. “Currently online sales are the number one channel for vape product sales, and specialized vape stores are another potential destination for consumers.”

Indeed, says Nederhoff, “convenience stores are one of few brick-and-mortar options for adult smokers to legally purchase vaping devices and products. As such, they play an integral role.”

From a sales perspective, there is no special equipment or features required to sell vaping products. Pricing is also straightforward if c-stores follow the manufacturers’ recommend price point. While prices will vary according to type of product and manufacturer, the market is competitive. C-stores can expect pricing to reflect that competitive market.

6. What do c-store owners need to know about the products?

Understanding e-cigarettes and vaping products has proven problematic. “Initially, the vaping category flooded convenience store owners with complex systems that were hard to explain to both store owners and consumers,” says Chrysochoidis.

JTI is hoping it has cut through this confusion with its new vape system, which Chrysochoidis calls a “game changer.” “Logic Compact offers convenience stores a simple and easy way to use vape, and consumers are responding positively. With its magnetic pods and charger, vaping just clicks with Logic Compact.”

The system, known as a closed tank, uses replaceable 1.6ml pre-filled e-liquid pods. The pods come in four flavours — tobacco, menthol, fresh berries and tropical — and click seamlessly into the device magnetically, as does the charging cable. “Choosing simple, sleek vape technology like Logic Compact makes it easy for convenience store owners to increase foot traffic and revenues and capitalize on the profit opportunity that vapes represent,” says Chrysochoidis.

Other companies, such as JUUL, offer c-stores the option to carry pods in flavours that range from mango to cucumber to Virginia tobacco. These sell for a recommended $20.99 a pack. Device kits, including starter kits, are also essential. JUUL’s starter kit, for instance, includes a rechargeable device, USB charging dock, four JUULpods, and it comes with a one-year limited device warranty.

Then there is the IQOS 3 MULTI, a heated tobacco system and not technically a vape, that gives customers 10 back-to-back experiences without having to charge the IQOS holder in between heatsticks.

Variety defines the vaping market.

Except from The Vape Report in the May/June Issue of Convenience Store News Canada


JUUL Labs launches secret shopping program

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 3.17.42 PMIs that a customer or a secret shopper? JUUL Labs is helping convenience operators stay on track in an effort to comply with age restrictions.

That’s because keeping vaping products out of the hands, and mouths, of young people is one area on which government, health professionals and manufacturers all agree. The extent of that agreement is reflected in announcement from JUUL Labs that it has launched a secret shopping program in Canada.

Shoppers are testing stores across the country to ensure that all retail partners conduct proper age verification and uphold bulk purchase restrictions. Stores that are found to be repeatedly noncompliant will be flagged and will be subject to remedial action – including being denied the ability to sell JUUL Labs products and reporting to appropriate provincial governments and Health Canada.

“While both convenience stores and vape shops do a good job age testing, we are working with them in the spirit of continuous improvement to do even better,” says Michael Nederhoff, general manager of JUUL Labs Canada.”This program will make it more difficult for minors to purchase vaping products and will ensure that our retail partners continue to comply with federal and provincial regulations.”

All retail outlets purchasing JUUL products directly from JUUL Labs, or through one of their authorized distributors, will be subject to shops by a well-established secret shopping service provider.

As part of it’s commitment to youth prevention, JUUL has implemented a variety of activities designed to prevent youth access to vaping products, including:

  • Launching the “What Parents Need to Know” parent education campaign in Canada to provide more information to parents and keep vaping products away from youth.

  • Calling on the Quebec Government to include e-cigarettes and vaping as part of a new proposed bill that will raise the age-gate for cannabis to 21. This act would help to restrict youth access by reducing purchase and resale to minors.

  • Using unique ID match online and age verification technology instore to make sure minors can’t access and purchase the products. An adult signature at time of delivery is required for all deliveries in Canada. JUUL Labs’ online age-restrictions are more robust than the Ontario Cannabis Store.

  • Labeling that states JUUL includes nicotine and packaging with warning messaging, including a “Skull and Crossbones” warning decal. This graphic warning is voluntary; studies by researchers at the University of Waterloo indicate that graphic warning labels are one of the most effective measures at preventing youth uptake of restricted products.

  • Mandating contracts with stores and other wholesale customers which require them to take several actions to prevent access by youth, including bulk purchase restrictions to prevent black market re-sale.

  • A strict marketing and social media code, which is useful for c-store operators, can be read here: juul.ca/our-responsibility.