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Will Juul C1 biometric vape set costly precedent for FDA approval industrywide?

The world’s largest retailer of vapor products is announcing the impending release of a new vaping device that boasts an abundance of high-tech features to prevent teenage use.  The Juul C1 vape reportedly utilizes facial recognition software to verify the user’s age through a connected smartphone application. 

Other interesting gadgetry includes a “find my vape” function and an auto-lock option that can prevent others from using the biometric vape whenever the device is out of range of the owner’s phone.  An additional geofencing component is also being considered which will theoretically prevent usage in public areas deemed non-vaping such as schools and hospitals. 

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Juul Labs has been under increased public scrutiny and criticism by federal health officials and political leaders for its perceived role in the alleged teen vaping crisis.  CEO Kevin Burns recently attended two congressional hearings just last week and offered a public apology to parents of teen vapers.  The launching of the Juul C1 may be a further demonstration of the company’s enhanced commitment to the prevention of underage usage. 

Juul vape tracks user vaping habits

The new device will purportedly also include Bluetooth capabilities which can track the user’s vaping habits, such as the number of puffs per day and the locations, dates, and frequency of use of the device’s engagement.  Meanwhile, the Juul corporation further promises that this personal data will never be shared or sold to third party vendors.

The Financial Times.is reporting that the new smart device is already available for purchase in the United Kingdom following a successful trial run in Canada.   The official release date for the United States is, as yet, undetermined.

Of course, underage vapers can still vape illegally by simply purchasing a more conventional device without all the bells and whistles.  However, the release of the C1 may have long-term consequences on the American vapor industry as a whole. 

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently lost a very important lawsuit regarding the long-controversial and somewhat mysterious approval process of vapor products.  When the FDA originally released its updated deeming regulations in 2015, vapor technology was re-classified as a “tobacco product.”  The new classification now requires manufacturers of vaping devices and e-cigarettes to adhere to the Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) process previously reserved for only Big Tobacco products. 

However, the FDA was not quite ready to open the flood gates to potentially hundreds of thousands of new applications.  So, the PMTA deadline was postponed by as much as five years on multiple occasions.  The judge’s ruling in the failed lawsuit now demands that the FDA begin accepting applications within the next ten months – or else.

Meanwhile rumors have been circulating for years that the FDA is considering new regulatory actions requiring biometric technologies on vapor devices as a prerequisite for obtaining PMTA approval.  With the Juul launch of the AI-enhanced C1, the vapor company may have just proven that installing biometric technology in vaping devices is not only possible but it’s economically feasible, as well.  Unfortunately, the CI launch may be setting a new and potentially costly precedent that the remainder of the vaping industry may be forced to follow whether they like it or not. 

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