Disclosure: I received free product. I’m not sure from whom or to what exact end – I agreed to receive them and verified myself as a 21+ aged smoker to a non-descript intermediary, and if you give me seventy bucks worth of merch send it thought a cutout, I’ll happily respect your privacy. So let’s say some online influence campaign who respected appropriate laws did it, because that’s all I know.
I’m in my 40s, long time ~pack a day smoker. I’ve used three or four different e-cigarettes at various points, never very long nor even briefly to the exclusion of normal tobacco. I filled out a bunch of eligibility forms for smokers, mostly hoping to get some coupons, and along with them, got this offer. I have two daughters in HS and college respectively, whom I have not massively alienated and from whom I’ve heard of the rise and later mild stagnation of JUUL, but my roots are firmly planted in Gen-X rather than millennials/gen-y, and while I’d like to think I have a measure of respect in said groups, I only aspire to be an occasional bridge, cheerleader, and dropper of devastatingly bad dad jokes, not to join them or be “with it”.
I open the box pictured to find a small refillable pod, a battery/device, a small rubber stopper, and a short flat charging cable. The cable is a perfectly average USB micro-B, as used by nearly all non-iPhones. After three decades of refilling ink cartridges, unlocking cell phones, and soldering bizarre adapters, supplying an intentionally refillable pod and using a standard cable give me an instant “These are my people!” vibe. The packaging is study feeling. The pod snaps in with a nice “click”, seemingly to stay in place. The device is kind of light, and appears to be made of aluminum. It’s Rose Gold (other colors were available) which matches my daughters iPhone and is obviously cruise control for cool (unless they changed that again).
It charged in 30 min, a little K on glowing red, then white to show full charge. In use, same deal – white mean charged, red means running low. I’ve never ran it completely out of power, so I don’t know exactly how the “red K” keeps working, but two-ish cig breaks seems ok. At my pace, it appears to last 6-12 hours or so.
Filling the pod was uneventful, open bottle, push juice into pod, push silicone stopper back into pod. Drawing on it automatically triggers the heat (a high-ohm coil, meant for nicotine salt solutions, I’m told). After a few false starts of not pulling long or hard enough and tinkering a little with the two “air carb” holes on the side that can limit fresh air mix, I get it to work and successfully inhale big clouds of faux-smoke. It’s not nearly as harsh as other e-cigs I’ve tried, about on-par with normal cigarettes but much smoother if inhaling directly instead of the “suck-inhale” cycle of cigarettes. It tastes strongly like ripe mango, which is nice. I can’t really offer a comparison to other mango flavors (non-cough*JUUL*non-cough) but I like it. I do like that I am clearly inhaling *something* that isn’t air, but it isn’t overly harsh seeming to throat or tongue.
The pod holds ~1ml, which, after some quick calculations that appear to jive with so-far field testing appears to be roughly equivalent to 1 pack or full-flavor filter shorts, possibly a little less. If you were hoping to cut back on nicotine and eventually quit, there’s apparently options for that. I’ve tried to quit a few times, but my heart isn’t really in it – at this point I’m hoping to perhaps transfer the addiction onto something less harmful, then regroup from there. Price wise, that works out to 70-80 cents a “pack equivalent” had I bought the juice as $20 (approximate online price), which is excellent both compared to actual packs (~$6 and on the way up) and pre filled pods for other vapes.
I’m on day three, so an evaluation might be slightly premature, but midway through day two, something interesting happened. I misplaced my vape, and didn’t notice for long enough that I was clearly wanting it. I thought “Oh well, I’ll just smoke a cig” to which my subconscious immediately recoiled with “NO! FIND VAPE!”. Now, that’s astonishingly fast, as well as unexpected – all other e-cigs, gum, patches, etc have been “I want a cigarette. Ok, FINE, I’ll do/chew/use this thing for a while, I *guess* I don’t quite want one as badly now”, never even remotely realigning what it is I’m addicted to let alone actively wanting the replacement rather than the original. I’ve smoked a total of six cigarettes in the days since I got it (normally, ~30-35 would have been typical), intentionally putting for absolutely zero effort into it – if I want to smoke, I smoke – which I’m quite impressed by. I’m in no way at all less addicted to nicotine, but while none of the other delivery systems were close, I really feel like this is cementing itself in as “the nicotine source”, for better or worse.
If I had paid for it, I’d feel a little hesitant about the starting kit price ($50), though really that puts the entire startup at around a carton of cigs, which it will, if nothing else, absolutely mange to replace over time in my case (likely in a week or two, certainly within a month), quite likely much more than that. I’m not really sure how I feel about it as a nicotine cessation aid, but if you’re not sure about kicking nicotine, you probably won’t anyway and moving to a safer delivery system is almost certainly a huge cut in harm, even if it’s not a safe alternative as such.
- Exactly the size of two 100s cigs laid side by side, which is convenient.
- Actually succeeded in reducing my smoking by 95% in two days, without any particular effort on my part
- Intentionally refillable pods, no hacking/modding for use with arbitrary vape juice, putting the operational costs not just firmly below cigarettes or cigars, but all the way down to cheaper than any other tobacco product ever
- Good fit if you’re really not ready to quit smoking, but would like to not wreck your lungs inhaling a continuous stream of tar and partially burned leaf
- Hasn’t magically made me want to give up nicotine, and probably won’t
- Wouldn’t hurt to have slightly longer lasting battery and/or user replaceable battery (I haven’t actually tore it down, so this is partially still up in the air – it may be hackable. There’s an element of a pro here, for once the device did pretty much everything I wanted, to the point where having it continue to work overwhelmed my urge to tear it down to see how it worked)
- Possibly a little too appealing to non-smokers who might want to “try” (and, in some cases I’m sure, still be “trying” It decades later) a convenient, safer, form of nicotine. Not that that’s really my problem or anything.
- It’d be nice to have some kind of gauge on how much you’ve used it just then, equivalent to a cigarette running out marking a “normal” stopping point
Ultimately, racking up pros doesn’t really amount to much if one of the cons are “Didn’t actually have a noticeable impact on my smoking habits”, which is just a kinder way of saying “Didn’t work”. As an end user, I’m not really in a position to determine which, if any, of the cons might put this one vital pro in jeopardy. So in a sense, the short version would be “Pros: Didn’t not work – Cons: None that outweigh the pros”.