The New York Post detailed the harrowing new reality of counterfeit Juul pods that are flooding the market from China.
A Juul is a type of electronic cigarette where consumers use flavored pods to get their dose of nicotine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that around 16.2 million devices were sold in 2017. The trend is particularly popular among teenagers, who reportedly enjoy the variety of flavors, such as mango and creme.
The article compared the fake Juul pod to a real one and frighteningly found that there were few differences between the two. It noted that the two boxes were “identical,” save the plastic wrap that surrounded the fake.
The only other difference the article noted was the counterfeit pod had liquid that was slightly yellow; the real deal was clear. The paper has sent the fake pod to undergo chemical analysis to get a clear view of the potential health risks involved.
Though many might assume that fakes only exist on questionable online websites, the Post reported that counterfeiters are targeting tobacco shops in the hope that the promise of profit would overpower any moral scruples. According to one tobacco shop owner who was contacted by multiple Chinese businessmen, a fake Juul pod is being advertised for half the price of the authentic product. With the ability to resell the fake at market value, the potential revenue is huge.
Earlier this week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection based in Philadelphia intercepted a package, destined for Newark, Delaware containing over 1,000 fake Juul pods. The loot was valued at an estimated $4,000, reported The Philly Voice.
The Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations, Casey Durst, explained that the organization was particularly strict with items that were ingested, as counterfeit items could pose serious health risks.
“One of the chief reasons why Customs and Border Protection takes intellectual property rights enforcement so serious is because of the potential health and safety threats counterfeit goods like these electronic nicotine products pose to American consumers.”
In the aftermath of the seizure, a Juul spokesman gave a statement to the Philly Voice.
“We applaud the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for these crucial enforcement actions against these unlawful products, made with unknown and potentially hazardous chemicals, and with unregulated quality standards. JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world.”
Juul is currently suing over 30 Chinese counterfeiters. The U.S. is currently embroiled in trade negotiations with China that seek to crack down on such counterfeiting, euphemistically referred to as intellectual property theft.