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Teen’s JUUL Lawsuit Claims Ads Lured Him Into Nicotine Addiction As A Minor

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A Colorado teenager has filed a product liability lawsuit that alleges he was lured into a JUUL nicotine addiction by the manufacturer’s advertising campaign, which intentionally targeted underage consumers.

Kaden Motarjeme filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on February 17, naming JUUL Labs, Inc. and Altria Group, Inc. as defendants.

The lawsuit indicates that Motarjeme began vaping with JUUL products at the age of 17, and developed a severe nicotine addiction and other health issues. As a result, he claims that he will now be addicted to nicotine for life.

JUUL was just introduced in 2015, but quickly became the most widely used vaping product among teens, following a marketing scheme that promoted the controversial vape pod toward young users, creating new nicotine addictions that are expected to drive JUUL sales for decades.

The addictive JUUL pods are designed to look like USB drives, allowing students to hide their vaping habit from teachers, parents and other adults. Although the manufacturer suggested JUUL was safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, high levels of nicotine are delivered by each pod, making the device particularly addictive.

Motarjeme and others accuse JUUL of targeting teens intentionally.

“Defendants designed JUUL to quickly and severely addict young people to nicotine, one of the most addictive chemicals in the world,” the lawsuit states. “By studying cigarette industry archives, JUUL learned how to manipulate the nicotine in its products to maximize addictiveness, particularly among new users and young people, and thereby increase sales.”

Motarjeme is not the only one making that claim. On February 12, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that her state was also filing a lawsuit against JUUL for the same reasons, claiming that the company has created a youth vaping epidemic.

The Massachusetts complaint (PDF) indicates JUUL Labs and its predecessor, Pax Labs, illegally advertised JUUL to minors, buying advertising space on children’ media platforms such as Nickolodean, Nick Jr., The Cartoon Network, and Seventeen Magazine. The company also allegedly purchased ad space on websites that served a study aids for middle and high school students.

“JUUL is responsible for the millions of young people nationwide who are addicted to e-cigarettes, reversing decades of progress in combatting underage tobacco and nicotine use,” Healey said in a press release. “Our lawsuit sheds new light on the company’s intent to target young people, and we are going to make them pay for the public health crisis they caused in Massachusetts.”

JUUL Vaping Addiction Epidemic

Recent FDA data indicates teen e-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels in the United States, and JUUL Labs has been accused of fueling the growing teen nicotine addiction problems in the United States.

In addition to designing JUUL to look like a USB thumb drive, the manufacturer also marketed and sold JUUL pods in various candy-like flavors, which has resulted in a large number of teens and prior non-smokers starting to vape, and developing addictions to the high levels of nicotine contained in the pods.

In September 2019, the FDA issued a warning letter to JUUL, indicating there was evidence it told school-aged children that its products were safer than cigarettes, which has not been proven.

In addition to this latest filing by Massachusetts, and Motarjeme’s lawsuit, a growing number of JUUL lawsuits and class action claims have been filed nationwide. Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints brought throughout the federal court system, the JUUL litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which is where JUUL Labs, Inc.’s San Francisco headquarters are located.

As JUUL addiction lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months, the litigation is expected to continue to grow, and is likely to encompass tens of thousands of complaints.

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