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The makers of the popular JUUL vaping pods face a lawsuit brought by the parents of a 14 year old boy, alleging that the company targeted underage users in order to get them addicted to nicotine contained in the electronic cigarettes, which are meant for adults.
The complaint (PDF) was initially filed last month in Florida state court by Craig and Julie Shapiro, representing themselves and their minor child, identified only as B.S. However, the case was removed (PDF) to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on June 21.
The lawsuit names JUUL Labs, Inc., Altria Group, Inc., Phillip Morris USA, Inc., My Vapor Hut, Inc. (doing business as 1st Wave Vapor), and Edgar F. Di Puglia, owner of The Smoke House Smoke Shop, as defendants.
“B.S. is only 14 years old yet he is addicted to JUUL, an e-cigarette,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants are to blame. Mimicking Big Tobacco’s past marketing practices, Defendants prey on youth to recruit replacement smokers for financial gain.”
The Shapiros indicate that their son began buying and using JUUL vapes when he was only 13, unaware of how much nicotine JUUL pods contained. However, the teen was attracted to the mint, mango, crème brulee, fruit medley and menthol flavors, which critics have suggested were marketed towards teens. In addition to a nicotine addiction, the lawsuit indicates B.S. was exposed to toxic substances, potential disease, and economic harm.
Vaping Addition Problems
A recent study indicated that e-cigarette advertising reaches 80% of middle and high school students in the U.S. Furthermore, vaping during adolescence quadruples a teen’s risk of becoming a cigarette tobacco smoker later.
JUUL vape pens have quickly grown to dominate the electronic cigarette market. In addition to the sale of candy-like flavors, the devices are designed to look like USB thumb drives, allowing teens to hide their vaping habit from parents, teachers and other adults.
In February, the American Lung Association gave the FDA a failing grade for not doing enough to prevent teens from using and buying e-cigarettes. Vaping is now the most popular form of tobacco youth among U.S. teens, with rates of teen use jumping by 78% from 2017 to 2018 alone.
In 2011, when the FDA first said it would regulate e-cigarettes, only 1.5 percent of teens vaped, but now more than one-third of teens use e-cigarettes.
Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics also called on the federal government to implement more stringent vaping laws across the country, and not wait another year to act.
This latest complaint joins a growing number of JUUL vaping addiction lawsuits filed by families of teens who suffered health problems, including heart attacks, pneumonia and other conditions.