- Expected 25 May 2021
'Big Vape is a dazzling story that crackles with the energy of a nicotine buzz, mixing tales of ground-breaking innovation with those of corporate greed and government dysfunction' Christopher Leonard, author of the New York Times bestseller, Kochland
It began with a smoke break.
THIS IS A STORY OF AMBITION AND GREED
James Monsees and Adam Bowen were two ambitious graduate students at Stanford, and in between puffs after class they dreamed of a way to quit smoking. Their solution became the Juul, a sleek, modern device that could vaporize nicotine into a conveniently potent dose.
THIS IS A STORY OF BOOM AND BUST
The business they built around that device, Juul Labs, would go on to become a $38 billion company and draw blame for addicting a whole new generation of underage tobacco users.
THIS IS A STORY OF OUR TIME
With rigorous reporting and piercing insight into a Silicon Valley startup, Big Vape uses the dramatic rise of Juul to tell a larger story of big business, Big Tobacco, and the high cost of a product that was too good to be true.
A propulsive, eye-opening work of reporting, chronicling the rise of Juul and the birth of a new addiction
'The rise and fall of Juul is an instructive tale and Jamie Ducharme does an excellent job detailing how one bad decision after another led the company astray in this deft rendition of grand start-up dreams gone up in smoke.' Reeves Wiedeman, author of Billion Dollar Loser
'Big Vape is more than just brilliantly reported and elegantly written. It is also a richly populated book - filled not just with human characters but with matters of science, finance, invention, ambition, ethics, hubris, and blazing ingenuity.' Jeffrey Kluger, bestselling co-author of Apollo 13
Journalist Ducharme charts the meteoric rise, subsequent missteps, and resulting misfortunes of e-cigarette company Juul in her brisk and thorough debut. Juul started as a graduate design project in 2005 by cofounders James Monsees and Adam Bowen; their aim was "to change what it meant to consume nicotine." It quickly exploded into a multibillion dollar start-up with the launch of the small, sleek Juul e-cigarette. Ducharme describes questionable company decisions: employees conducted "buzz-testing" by vaping different concoctions in order to find the most potent and addictive nicotine solution, and a social media campaign mimicked decades-old cigarette company tactics when it aimed to " own the early adopter'/ cool kid' equity" and may have led teenagers to use the product. When it became apparent that tens of thousands of teenagers were, in fact, using Juul, the company continued to borrow from the Big Tobacco playbook by creating a health curriculum for schools. Its reputation was further damaged by the appearance of a mysterious lung ailment related to vaping that sprang up in 2019 (though the cause was determined to not be tied to Juuls). Ducharme presents an evenhanded retelling of the company's scandals up to the point, in 2020, when Monsees and Bowen left. Fast-paced and impressively researched, this detailed account sings.