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Side Effects of JUUL: Understanding the Health Risks

Side Effects of JUUL

If you’re in the process of quitting smoking and transitioning to e-cigarettes, chances are you have heard of JUUL. JUUL is one of the most beloved vape brands, but each pod comes with a laundry list of adverse health effects. 

One of the best tobacco alternatives is Black Note’s natural e-liquid. But, before we get into that, let’s dig a little bit deeper into the short-term and long-term side effects of JUUL. 

What Is JUUL?

Despite launching in 2015, JUUL accounted for 75% of the market share of the vape industry by the end of 2020. This massive boost solidified JUUL’s place in the industry and even led to the tobacco giant Altria acquiring a 35% stake in the business. 

JUUL hasn’t reached the heights of 2018 in recent years, but it continues to be a strong contender in the vape world. In 2020, JUUL accounted for 63% of all U.S. nicotine vaping sales, making it the largest nicotine vape brand in the States. 


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The success of this brand is due to the devices, which are somewhere between disposables and pod systems. The device itself is streamlined and simple, but the e-liquid is encased in a pod that can be easily clipped in and removed from the device. 

Simplicity lies at the heart of JUUL. Whereas other brands would capitalize on the 2018 success and make different kinds of devices, JUUL always remains the same, except for a few minor changes throughout the years. The name of the brand has become synonymous with sleek, minimalist devices and flavorful pods.

Nicotine Salts vs. Freebase Nicotine

Freebase nicotine is the standard nicotine type of nicotine that is found in most e-liquids. To create freebase nicotine, manufacturers add ammonia to pure nicotine. This makes it more bioavailable, allowing vapers to easily absorb the nicotine.

JUUL pods contain nicotine salts. To create salts, manufacturers extract nicotine from tobacco leaves and mix it with benzoic acid. This lowers the pH and allows the salts to vaporize at a lower temperature. 

Overall, the throat hit is much smoother and less harsh. Because of this, nic salts contain much higher concentrations of nicotine than freebase nicotine e-liquid. 

Nicotine Salts vs. Freebase Nicotine: Strength Comparisons

When you consistently consume nicotine, your body becomes accustomed to a certain level. You need to be aware of the difference between freebase and salt nic strengths before you switch between them. 

  • 3mg/6mg of freebase nicotine is comparable to 20mg of salt nics
  • 12mg of freebase nicotine is comparable to 40mg of salt nics 
  • 20mg of freebase nicotine is comparable to 60mg of salt nics 

If you want to manage your nicotine addiction, nicotine salts might be more of a hindrance than a help. When you switch to nic salts, your body will start to crave higher nicotine strengths, even if you only feel like you’re getting the same amount of nicotine as before.

Short-Term JUUL Health Risks

Switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes comes with plenty of health benefits, but health-conscious vapers still need to be aware of the side effects of JUUL products. 

Even before nicotine addiction takes hold, vapers experience immediate adverse effects when they consume nicotine. Nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands, and the resulting discharge of epinephrine (better known as adrenaline), causes an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. 

Nicotine sickness is another obstacle for first-time vapers. It happens when someone consumes far more nicotine than they can handle. 

Here are the typical symptoms, ranging from most common to most extreme. 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors 
  • Rashes
  • Itchy skin
  • Abnormal heart rhythms 
  • Vomiting
  • Death

As extreme as it sounds, consuming too much nicotine can be fatal. According to the CDC, the fatal human dose is between 50mg and 60mg of nicotine.  

If you’re in the process of quitting smoking, you are more likely to experience nic sickness than others. To avoid it, you need to find a nicotine percentage that matches your previous cigarette usage. 


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Long-Term JUUL Health Risks

In the long term, the side effects of JUUL products can be devastating. 

Nicotine addiction is one of the most difficult things that long-term JUUL users have to contend with. According to an infamous Surgeon General’s report from 1988, nicotine is as addictive as heroin.  

JUUL devices contain nicotine salts, which have much stronger nicotine strengths than standard freebase nicotine. By quitting smoking and switching to JUUL, you could actually increase your nicotine consumption. 

The health risks of nicotine are widely publicized. People who consistently consume nicotine for a long amount of time are at “increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, [and] gastrointestinal disorders.” On top of that, they can expect their immune responses to slow and they may encounter reproductive health issues. 

JUUL pods are also proven to contain harmful chemicals, such as diacetyl. 

Chemicals and Additives in JUUL Pods

Among the widely known JUUL health effects, JUUL fans also have to worry about the hidden chemicals and additives in the e-liquids. 

The Diacetyl Controversy

Diacetyl is a flavoring agent that is commonly found in butter, cheese, whiskey, vinegar, roasted coffee, and more household products. The catch is that diacetyl is safe to eat, but extremely dangerous when inhaled. 

Eight employees at a popcorn factory discovered this problem when they fell ill with severe cases of bronchiolitis obliterans. Researchers had not yet discovered the illness, which has been nicknamed “popcorn lung”, which led to several studies that unveiled the hidden problem. 

One study surveyed 117 respondents from the same factory and found that they had 2.6 times the expected rate of chronic cough and shortness of breath in comparison to the national data. They also had twice the expected rate of diagnosed asthma and chronic bronchitis. 

But what does this have to do with quitting smoking and the side effects of JUUL? 

Despite a proven clear link between diacetyl and respiratory issues, vape manufacturers continue to use it as a flavoring agent. 

According to officials from JUUL, there is absolutely no diacetyl in JUUL pods. However, research from just a few years ago found diacetyl, acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde, and methylglyoxal in 100% of the 13 JUUL pods that were tested

Diacetyl, a common flavoring agent, is safe to eat but extremely dangerous when inhaled, leading to severe respiratory issues known as ‘popcorn lung’ among workers exposed to it. Yet, it’s still used in vaping products.

— Black Note

Unfortunately, JUUL’s health risks are much more severe than spokespeople lead consumers to believe. That’s why thousands of vapers are switching to natural e-liquids, a healthier (albeit not risk-free) tobacco alternative. 

Should I Quit JUUL Pods Cold Turkey?

Quitting JUUL (or any other nicotine e-liquid product) is very difficult. Nicotine withdrawal is no joke; symptoms include cravings, restlessness, anxiety, weight gain, and difficulty sleeping and concentrating. 

Besides, very few people succeed in quitting smoking or vaping via this method. Dr. J. Taylor Hays has studied this problem over the last 25 years. They have concluded that out of 100 people who attempt to quit cold turkey, only three to five people will succeed for longer than six months. That’s a failure rate of at least 95%.   

Instead of eliminating JUUL pods entirely, you should try a healthier tobacco alternative. 

Transitioning from JUUL to Natural E-Liquids

The healthiest alternative to vaping is quitting entirely. But, if you’re not quite at that stage of your journey, there are healthier tobacco alternatives on the market.  

N.E.T. E-Liquids Are a Healthier Tobacco Alternative

Natural e-liquids, also known as N.E.T. e-liquids, contain flavorings sourced from natural ingredients. Forget about diacetyl and other harmful, hidden flavorings.

For many, natural e-liquids are the next step in their health journey. They eliminate the need for fruity flavors and allow smokers to seamlessly transition to tasty tobacco alternatives. 

There are lots of other benefits of natural tobacco e-liquids.

Benefits of Black Note’s N.E.T. E-Liquids

Black Note is one of the few vape brands that create natural e-liquids. 

  • Authentic tobacco taste. Our e-liquids taste just like your favorite cigarettes. We’ve got e-liquids that taste just like American Spirit, Lucky Strikes, Benson & Hedges, and more traditional cigarettes. 
  • No synthetic nicotine. Just like we extract flavorings from tobacco leaves, we extract nicotine too! 
  • No artificial chemical flavors. All our e-liquids are naturally extracted, meaning the flavorings come straight from tobacco leaves. 
  • Tailored nicotine strengths. Whether you smoke one cigarette or ten cigarettes a day, we have a wide range of nicotine strengths to satisfy all your cravings. 
Learn more about how it’s made and our 9-step process.


What are the main differences between nicotine salts and freebase nicotine?

Nicotine salts are formed by combining nicotine extracted from tobacco leaves with benzoic acid, which lowers the pH level, allowing for a smoother throat hit at higher nicotine concentrations. Freebase nicotine, the traditional form found in most e-liquids, is treated with ammonia to increase its bioavailability. Nicotine salts can deliver higher nicotine strengths with less harshness, making them popular in pod-based systems like JUUL.

What are the short-term health risks of using JUUL?

Short-term risks include nicotine sickness, characterized by symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, tremors, rashes, itchy skin, abnormal heart rhythms, vomiting, and in extreme cases, death due to nicotine overdose.

What are the long-term health risks of using JUUL?

Long-term use of JUUL can lead to nicotine addiction and increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal disorders. The high nicotine content in JUUL pods, due to the use of nicotine salts, may exacerbate these risks compared to traditional cigarettes.

What harmful chemicals and additives have been found in JUUL pods?

Research has identified harmful chemicals in JUUL pods, including diacetyl, acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde, and methylglyoxal. These substances can cause various health issues, ranging from respiratory problems (like popcorn lung) to cell and membrane damage.

Is quitting JUUL cold turkey recommended?

Quitting JUUL or any nicotine product cold turkey has a high failure rate, with only 3-5% of individuals succeeding beyond six months. Gradually reducing nicotine intake or switching to less harmful alternatives is generally more effective.

How do natural e-liquids serve as a healthier tobacco alternative?

Natural e-liquids (N.E.T. e-liquids) are made from flavorings sourced from natural ingredients, including tobacco leaves, without synthetic nicotine or artificial chemical flavors. Brands like Black Note offer authentic tobacco taste and tailored nicotine strengths, providing a cleaner and potentially healthier option for those looking to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals found in products like JUUL.

What makes Black Note’s N.E.T. E-Liquids a preferred choice for transitioning vapers?

Black Note’s N.E.T. e-liquids are preferred for their authentic tobacco taste, absence of synthetic nicotine and harmful chemicals, and a wide range of nicotine strengths to match individual needs. Their Virginia Tobacco e-liquid, for example, offers a taste similar to popular cigarette brands, making it an appealing option for those seeking a familiar yet safer alternative.

Try Virginia Tobacco E-Liquid

Virginia Tobacco e-liquid is one of our top sellers. To create the signature taste, we grow tobacco leaves in the sandy plains of the Italian Alps. Once the tobacco leaves have been flue-cured and processed, this e-liquid evokes the mildly mellow and sweet taste of Virginia tobacco. It tastes almost identical to Salem, American Spirit, and Marlboro cigarettes. 

For a clean tobacco alternative that eliminates most of the side effects of JUUL pods, choose Virginia Tobacco e-liquid. 
Read JUUL Virginia Tobacco vs. Black Note’s Natural Tobacco E-Liquid for a more in-depth comparison.



The information provided in this blog post is for educational and informational purposes only. This information is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company, including Black Note and its affiliates. The author, who is not a medical professional, writes this blog post without intending to offer medical advice or replace advice or treatment from a personal physician.

This blog post discusses tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and related substances, intended solely for adult use and potentially harmful to health. We advise all readers/users of this content to quit smoking and/or vaping, or to consult a doctor before starting or continuing to smoke and/or vape.

The author, the blog, Black Note, and its affiliates assume no responsibility for any actions or inaction a reader takes based on the information presented in this blog. We do not intend this content to promote smoking or vaping, and readers should interpret it accordingly.

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