Juul is experiencing an unintentional bump in popularity in India, thanks to online and brick-and-mortar vendors who are reselling it on the unofficial gray market. Indian vendors told BuzzFeed News that the trendy e-cigarettes are flying off their shelves, cheap vape deals at high prices, amid a lack of regulatory clarity around e-cigarettes in general in the country. While there is no federal ban on vape sales, the devices can’t be sold in a growing number of states in India and the health ministry has asked the commerce secretary to ban the entry Juul products into the country.
Juul, which is exploring a launch in India — the world's second-largest market of smokers — does not officially sell its products in India and described some of the current unauthorized trade there as “illegal” in a statement to BuzzFeed News.The vendors said they buy Juul e-cigarettes and nicotine pods at retail cost, plus shipping, from contacts in the US, and go on to resell the products at a premium in India, where a Juul starter kit goes for about 0 (compared to in the US), far more than other alternatives like Justfog. justfog vape devices go for about (they’re in the US) and a four-pack of pods that’s in the US sells for twice as much.
Despite the high cost, Juul is lighting up among India’s well-heeled, urban consumers. “I don’t see anybody vaping anything else anymore,” said Sahil Behal, a fashion photographer from Mumbai.Three sellers, who wished to stay anonymous, told BuzzFeed News that they sell between 300 and 400 Juul devices, and around 1,000 Juul pods each month. “It’s literally the only thing people ask for,” said a vendor from Mumbai. He estimates Juul now accounts for 70% of his vaping business.
“I’m selling out so fast I’m having trouble keeping up with my orders,” Pierre Andre, who sells Juul online, told BuzzFeed News. “Not many people vaped in India till a couple of years ago, but now, everyone just wants Juul.”There’s a healthy appetite for swanky, tech-adjacent imports — the Mumbai vendor said wealthy customers started getting Juul devices from the US about a year ago. But sellers also said India's sudden appetite for Juul seems to be fueled, at least in part, by the controversy surrounding the product in the US, where critics have slammed it for creating “epidemic levels” of nicotine use among teens with its flavored pods. “I’m thrilled that this company ran into a lot of controversy there,” said the vendor in Mumbai. “It made people here take notice. Any publicity is good publicity.”u2022eney7485yyWEEEEDD