Larry McLaughlin bought his wife a Juul e-cigarette for Christmas as a stocking stuffer two years ago.
While she didn't care for it, he did. And nearly two years later, the 62-year-old construction worker still puffs on mango-flavored nicotine pods every day. It's the first time in more than 40 years of smoking and at least a dozen attempts to quit that McLaughlin, who lives in suburban Chicago, has successfully stopped smoking tobacco.
Juul founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees created Juul to do just that: help themselves and other adults stop smoking. But it's gotten a bad rap in recent months as federal health regulators question whether its popular candy flavors — including mango, creme and fruit — are at least partly responsible for the 77 percent surge in e-cigarette use among high school students over the past year.
Stories like McLaughlin's are what Juul wants to hear more of — not the ones about teens usage. Juul CEO Kevin Burns told CNBC that Juul isn't supposed to be cool for kids or hook nonsmokers on nicotine. "It's not designed for them. It's not meant for them," he said.