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According to allegations raised in a class action lawsuit filed by a grandmother in Mississippi, makers of JUUL vaping products purposefully baited in children, like her 16-year-old grandchild, resulting in nicotine addictions and life-long users of the electronic cigarettes.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi on August 15, brought by a grandmother identified only with the initials “M.D.”, who is seeking damages on behalf of herself and her 16 year old grandchild, identified by the initials “M.E.D.”
The lawsuit seeks class action status, naming JUUL Labs, Inc., Altria Group, Inc. and Philip Morris USA, Inc. as defendants, and alleging tha tthe companies intentionally creating a product and advertising campaign designed to hook underage users and cause JUUL nicotine addictions
While JUUL Labs has maintained that its products were designed to help smokers quit, the lawsuit claims the company’s use of fruity flavors, social media influencers and even the design to make its items look like USB drives, allowing teens to vape in secret, are part of a purposeful campaign to turn teenagers into nicotine addicts.
The JUUL class action lawsuit alleges that any claims that the products are designed to help smokers quit is a sham, which is evident by the design of the electronic cigarette pods.
“Because JUUL’s nicotine salts actually increase the rate and magnitude of blood plasma nicotine compared to traditional cigarettes, the risk of nicotine addiction and abuse is higher for JUUL e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes,” the lawsuit states. “Thus, far from helping smokers quit, the JUUL products simply increase their level of addiction to nicotine. Further, JUUL products are foreseeably exceptionally addictive when used by persons without prior exposure to nicotine – a fact not disclosed by Defendants.”
The case joins a growing number of JUUL nicotine addiction lawsuits filed by young adults, teenagers and parents, claiming that the manufacturer targeted their addictive product toward teens and withheld important safety warnings.
A recent study indicated that e-cigarette advertising reaches 80% of middle and high school students in the U.S. Another study warns that vaping during adolescence quadruples a teen’s risk of becoming a cigarette tobacco smoker later.
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.