CIG­A­RETTE BREAK­ERS

Forbes - - Leader Board -

James Mon­sees and Adam Bowen have cor­nered the U.S. e-cig­a­rette mar­ket with Juul. Up next: the world.

“CIG­A­RETTES ARE PROB­A­BLY the most suc­cess­ful con­sumer prod­uct of all time, and they kill more than half of all peo­ple who use them longterm,” says James Mon­sees (above, le ), the 38-yearold co­founder of Juul Labs, maker of the world’s most pop­u­lar e-cig­a­rette. “ at got us in­ter­ested.”

Juul (pro­nounced jewel) in­tro­duced its ash­drive-shaped de­vice in 2015 and has since taken over some 70% of the U.S. mar­ket. A Juul, which trans­forms a pod of nico­tine-laced liq­uid into in­hal­able va­por, sells for $34.99, while a four­pack of pods goes for $15.99 (some pods con­tain as much nico­tine as a pack of cig­a­rettes). Juul’s rev­enue should grow by more than 300% this year, to roughly $1 bil­lion. e com­pany, which is pro ta­ble, is val­ued by in­vestors at nearly $16.3 bil­lion; Forbes es­ti­mates that Mon­sees and his co­founder, Adam Bowen, 43, each own about 5% of Juul, stakes worth some $730 mil­lion each.

E-cig­a­rettes are un­ques­tion­ably safer than tra­di­tional smokes, con­tain­ing fewer tox­ins than the mélange of 7,000 chem­i­cals found in reg­u­lar cig­a­rettes. But e-cig­a­rettes have drawn crit­i­cism for their pop­u­lar­ity among teenagers and the lack of re­search into their long-term health e ects.

Mon­sees is not con­cerned: “A fairly small per­cent­age of un­der­age con­sumers are cre­at­ing a lot of noise and dis­tract­ing us from what can oth­er­wise be one of the great­est ad­vances in pub­lic health in our life­time.”

In April, how­ever, the Food & Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion re­quested doc­u­ments from Juul about its ad­ver­tis­ing and the prod­uct’s health im­pact, to in­ves­ti­gate whether the com­pany has in­ten­tion­ally ap­pealed to youth. Mon­sees says Juul never has and never will mar­ket to un­der­age con­sumers.

e founders are con­cen­trat­ing on ex­pand­ing Juul’s for­eign reach. It’ll face op­po­si­tion over­seas, too; last month Is­rael banned the Juul de­vice. “We are 0.5% of the global to­bacco mar­ket,” Mon­sees says. “We’ve hardly touched the prob­lem we’ve come out here to solve.”

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