Where Did It All Go So Wrong for Juul?

A new documentary by The New York Times traces the e-cigarette maker on its path from fledgling start-up to Silicon Valley juggernaut and, eventually, public health villain.,


Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story




The New York Times Presents: ‘Move Fast and Vape Things’

[MUSIC PLAYING] “It wasn’t that apparent that this was going to be the crisis that it became.” “Adam and I were clear in our goal to help improve the lives of adult smokers.” “Where did it all go so wrong?” “I told them I thought it would appeal to kids.” “Juul was creating the youth addiction crisis to e-cigarettes.” “Are we an evil company? What nefariousness are we covering up?” [MUSIC PLAYING]

Video player loading
CreditCredit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Producer/Director John Pappas
Reporter/Producer Sheila Kaplan
Reporter Julie Creswell

Watch on Friday, Sept. 17, at 10 p.m. on FX, and stream it on Hulu.

Adam Bowen and James Monsees, by their own telling, set out to improve the lives of a billion people by getting them off cigarettes.

But somewhere on the path from fledgling start-up to Silicon Valley juggernaut, their company, Juul, went tragically off course. Instead of upending Big Tobacco and hastening the end of smoking, Juul’s flavored e-cigarettes became a popular on-ramp for a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Attracted by the candy fruit flavors and vibrant marketing, teenagers like Jackie Franklin found that Juul packed an undeniable rush of nicotine, which she increasingly craved. After becoming hooked in high school, she was vaping as many as three Juul pods a day.





A Clip From ‘Move Fast and Vape Things’

Watch scenes from a new documentary on the rise of the e-cigarette maker Juul to air on Friday, Sept. 17, on FX, or stream it on Hulu.

[MUSIC PLAYING] “I’ve never had breathing problems in my life, ever. Like, that’s never been a thing for me. My inhaler helps somewhat, but my lungs literally feel like they’re turning to a crisp. Like, I can’t explain it. It just hurts so bad.” [MUSIC PLAYING] “They did like a bunch of breathing tests or whatever and they said it’s probably vaping-induced asthma. It has taken a kind of freedom that I can’t express.” [MUSIC PLAYING] “Mr. Monsees, do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Mr. Monsees, with that you are recognized for your opening statement of five minutes.” “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Adam Bowen and I founded Juul Labs and I now serve as the chief product officer of that company. I’m really quite grateful for the opportunity to be here today and address you all. From the moment Adam and I began the journey that would lead to the Juul system we were clear in our goal– to help improve the lives of adult smokers. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made.” “If you believed that Adam Bowen and James Monsees created Juul with the best of intentions, the plan to curb smoking– where did it all go so wrong?”

Video player loading
Watch scenes from a new documentary on the rise of the e-cigarette maker Juul to air on Friday, Sept. 17, on FX, or stream it on Hulu.CreditCredit…The New York Times Presents/FX/Hulu

Now, Franklin can’t pedal her bicycle without stopping, short of breath, to puff from an inhaler for what doctors tell her is probably vaping-induced asthma.

“My lungs literally feel like they’re turning to a crisp,” she said. “I can’t explain it — it just hurts so bad.”

In “Move Fast and Vape Things,” a new documentary by The New York Times on FX and Hulu, you’ll hear from public health experts, including Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, who blames Juul for causing a youth vaping crisis. And some of the advertising and marketing executives who helped make e-cigarettes so appealing to young customers like Franklin now say that the ambivalence they felt before has become full-blown regret.

“Your first instinct is to say: ‘Wow, it’s successful. People are using it,'” Erica Halverson, a former Juul marketing manager, said. “At the other instinct, it’s like, ‘Oh crap, the wrong people are using it.'”

Watch how a company founded with the intention of loosening Big Tobacco’s grip on smokers began following in the footsteps of cigarette makers, leading to a health crisis that ensnared millions of American teenagers.

The New York Times Presents airs on Friday, Sept. 17, on FX and is streaming on Hulu.

Supervising Producer Liz Day
Producer Timothy Moran
Co-Producer Salwa Shameem
Senior Producer Rachel Abrams
Director of Photography Jaron Berman
Video Editor Marlon Singleton

“The New York Times Presents” is a series of documentaries representing the unparalleled journalism and insight of The New York Times, bringing viewers close to the essential stories of our time.

Leave a Reply