The Devil's Playbook

The Devil's Playbook

Big Tobacco, Juul, and the Addiction of a New Generation

Lauren Etter


  • Description
  • Author
  • Info
  • Reviews


“Juul’s rise and fall teaches us something about greed, capitalism, policy failure and a particular cycle in American business that seems destined to repeat itself. . . . Deeply reported and illuminating.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
Big Tobacco meets Silicon Valley in this gripping exposé of what happened when two of the most notorious industries collided—and the vaping epidemic was born.

“The best business book I’ve read since Bad Blood.”—Jonathan Eig, bestselling author of Ali: A Life

Howard Willard lusted after Juul. As the CEO of the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris, he believed the e-cigarette had all the addictive upside of the original without the same apparent health risks and bad press. Meanwhile, Adam Bowen and James Monsees began working on a device meant to destroy Big Tobacco but ended up baking the cigarette industry’s DNA into their invention. Juul’s e-cigarette was so effective that it put the company on a collision course with Philip Morris, sparking one of the most explosive public health crises in recent memory.
Award–winning journalist Lauren Etter tells a riveting story of greed and deception in one of the biggest botched deals in business history. Willard was desperate to acquire Juul, even as his team sounded alarms about the startup’s reliance on underage customers. Ultimately, Juul’s executives negotiated a deal that let them pocket the lion’s share of Philip Morris’s $12.8 billion investment while government regulators and furious parents mounted a campaign to hold the company’s feet to the fire.
The Devil’s Playbook is the inside story of how Juul’s embodiment of Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things” ethos wrought havoc on American health, how a beleaguered tobacco company was seduced by the promise of a new generation of addicted customers, and how Juul’s founders, board members, and employees walked away with a windfall.


Lauren Etter:
Lauren Etter is an award-winning investigative reporter at Bloomberg News, where she writes in-depth corporate features and investigative stories for Bloomberg Businessweek. Previously she was a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and she has written for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. She holds master’s degrees in journalism and in law from Northwestern University. Etter lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.