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An Overview of the Recent JUUL & E-Cigarette Litigation

September 16, 2019 in

Recent lawsuits claim that e-cigarette retailers and manufacturers, such as JUULand Eonsmoke LLC, target minors in their advertising campaigns in an effort to encourage nicotine dependency in minors. Here, the product liability attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC) detail the latest surrounding this litigation.  

What Vaping Is and How It Causes Harm

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, also referred to as vapor, of an e-cigarette or similar device. Vaping has become a popular activity among middle and high school students, as well as young adults. A 2018 study showed that 37.8% of high school seniors vape, and vaping among middle schoolers jumped 48% from 2017 to 2018. 

The popularity of vaping, as opposed to traditional cigarette smoking, can be attributed to a variety of factors, including the sleekness of e-cigarette designs, the non-offensive odor, and the false perception that vaping is safer than traditional cigarettes. Because flavored vaping minimizes the negative acute physical effects of smoking, including coughing and throat irritation, e-cigarettes allow users to inhale substantially higher amounts of nicotine per puff than users of traditional cigarettes do, leading to addiction in users at a much faster and higher rate. Juul has misled the public about the true nicotine content of the Juul “pods” they sell, and by selling e-cigarettes in appealing flavors, they have encouraged increased usage and addiction, especially among young users. Based on these risks and others, The United States Surgeon General has concluded that e-cigarettes are not safe for anyone under the age of 26.    

E-Cigarette Manufacturers & Retailers Sued for Alleged Targeting of Minors in Advertising 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a lawsuit against Eonsmoke LLC, an e-cigarette retailer that offers “JUUL-compatible” products. The Attorney General’s complaint alleges that Eonsmoke LLC, “violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act by directly targeting young people for sales of its vaping products—including electronic nicotine devices, e-liquids, and nicotine pods—through marketing and advertising intended to appeal to youth. The complaint also alleges Eonsmoke failed to verify the age of online purchasers of its products and failed to ensure shipments of these products were received by a person 21 years or older, the state’s minimum legal sales age for smoking products.”

JUUL, an electronic cigarette company that is responsible for more than half of the e-cigarette and electronic nicotine distribution systems (ENDS) sales in the U.S. market, offers small, sleek devices that deliver high concentrations of nicotine to users. JUUL “pods” are marketed as discreet “lifestyle products” that come in flavors such as mint, creme and fruit. Hearings held to determine JUUL’s role in nicotine addiction among youths revealed that JUUL used deceptive marketing tactics to portray the use of e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to traditional tobacco products. The company has also been accused of creating sophisticated programs deployed in schools and summer camps that allow JUUL representatives to speak directly to minors about their products. 

The Hazards of E-Cigarettes Have Been Well-Documented

The FDA has reported an increasing number of cases of e-cigarette users—often teens and young adults—suffering addiction and seizures after using e-cigarette products. Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. Addiction can cause financial, physical, emotional and social problems for users, particularly adolescents and young adults. It has been well-established that the age at which users are exposed to addictive substances correlates with their likelihood to become addicted. This means that younger users suffer addiction at higher rates and for longer periods of time. Beyond addiction, seizures are also a known side effect of nicotine poisoning. Other side effects associated with the nicotine poisoning include:

  • blood clots,
  • embolisms,
  • heart injuries,
  • elevated blood pressure,
  • joint pain and
  • strokes. 

If you believe someone is experiencing a seizure due to nicotine poisoning, the FDA urges you to call 911 and seek immediate medical help. For exposures with less serious visible effects, call poison control at 800-222-1222.

Risks have also been documented regarding the practice of vaping. Studies have shown that vaping exposes users to carcinogenic compounds and heavy metals and can contribute to serious lung conditions such as bronchiolitis obliterans, an irreversible disease known commonly as “popcorn lung.”

The White House is Preparing to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

The current administration recently stated that they are preparing to ban all non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors due to the surge in side effects, illnesses and complications associated with the devices, as well as the rapid growth in use among adolescents and young adults. A spokesman for JUUL has said that the company will comply with any FDA bans on e-cigarette flavors if and when they are enacted. 

Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. Has a History of Advocating for the Rights of Those Who Have Been Harmed by the Tobacco Industry

JUUL and other e-cigarette companies have been accused of deploying tactics “straight out of the Big Tobacco playbook,” potentially leaving minors and young adults vulnerable to nicotine addiction and poisoning. Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. has a proven track record fighting against Big Tobacco, and our firm has committed to pursuing justice for those harmed by JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. To learn more about how you may be entitled to compensation due to harm caused by e-cigarette products, we urge you to contact Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC) today.