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How Juul made nicotine go viral

Juul, the USB drive–shaped e-cigarette gaining popularity among American youth, is a potent nicotine delivery device. But on the outside, it really doesn’t look like one.

Instead, it looks like a tech gadget. It’s discreet, intuitive, and comes in brightly colored flavors that mirror “collect them all” designs in kids’ products. And while those features might have been designed to provide a compelling alternative for2 adult smokers, they’ve wound up attracting young users in droves.

In the process, kids are getting hooked on a powerful nicotine product, like a fidget spinner that you can become chemically attached to. Teen smoking has been on the decline for decades, but e-cigarette use is now climbing, and it might be a pathway to using traditional cigarettes. The Juul’s design has been revolutionary for e-cigarettes — but its full impact on public health is yet to be seen.