The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has blamed the popularity of Juul’s e-cigarettes on the increasing rate of teen tobacco use in the United States.

In an attempt to show its products are aimed at adult users, and not teenagers, the e-cig manufacturer recently launch an app-connected e-cigarette that requires users to be over 18 years old. 

The Juul C1 e-cigarette is paired with an Android-only app via Bluetooth to monitor users’ vaping and track the devices. The product, the first in a series of bluetooth-connected e-cigarettes, was launched in the UK following a trial in Canada.

According to Dan Thomson, managing director of Juul’s UK business, users need to go through a stringent age verification check before they can use the device. This involves facial recognition and a two-step background check with third-party databases. 

The device also allows users to monitor the number of puffs they take daily, as well as monitor their vape if it is lost. The Financial Times also reported that the device comes with an auto-lock option, which means the e-cigarettes can be locked when it is out of the phone’s range to prevent others from using it. 

Juul’s director of product management Roxy Wacyk said the company plans to regularly update the app, and is looking at features that would allow users to limit their vaping,and prevent the use of the device in public areas such as schools.

Privacy experts raised concern about that required data collection for the new device.

“The main risk is if that data gets out . . . you could identify the person from it . . . and that it could be health-related information, which is a super sensitive area in GDPR,” said technology consultancy CCS Insight COO Martin Garner.

Juul nonetheless assured that the product was not primarily designed to collect data, but to give data to customers. It added it will not share or sell the data to third parties without users’ explicit permission. 

Figures from the National Youth Tobacco Survey released in February revealed that the number of high school students who use tobacco products, including e-cigarettes rose by 38 percent.  In 2018, about 21 percent of high school students vaped. 

The CDC blames nicotine vaping devices like Juul for single-handedly driving the increase in tobacco use among teenagers.