Nicotine delivery and cigarette equivalents from vaping a JUULpod

Tob Control. 2021 Mar 24;tobaccocontrol-2020-056367. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2020-056367. Online ahead of print.


With patented nicotine salt technology, JUUL dominates the e-cigarette market. We reviewed studies of JUUL's nicotine pharmacokinetic profile and studies quantifying nicotine in a JUULpod, emitted in the aerosol and absorbed by users. Examined in eight studies, JUUL's peak nicotine levels were half to three-quarters that of a combustible cigarette in industry-conducted studies with JUUL-naïve users, while comparable to or greater than combustible cigarettes in independent studies of experienced e-cigarette users. JUUL Labs reports each 5% (nicotine-by-weight) cartridge contains approximately 40 mg nicotine per pod and is 'approximately equivalent to about 1 pack of cigarettes.' In five independent studies, nicotine in the liquid in a JUULpod ranged from 39.3 to 48.3 mg. Seven studies measured nicotine delivery via vaping-machine generated aerosols, varying in puffing regimes and equipment. One study estimated 68% transfer efficiency to the aerosol, measuring 28.8 mg nicotine per JUULpod. The other studies reported nicotine values ranging from 72 to 164 µg/puff. At 200 puffs, this is 14.4-32.8 mg of nicotine per pod with equivalence to 13-30 cigarettes. A study measuring nicotine levels in JUUL users during a 5-day controlled switch found equivalence to 18 cigarettes. One JUULpod appears capable of delivering the nicotine equivalent to smoking about a pack of cigarettes, with variability. In JUUL-naïve smokers, JUUL's nicotine boost was lower than that of combustible cigarettes; while in experienced users, JUUL was comparable. Minimising harshness and adaptive to user experience, JUUL's design facilitates initiation to a high nicotine, and ultimately, highly addictive vaping product.

Keywords: addiction; electronic nicotine delivery devices; nicotine.