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An Illinois community has filed a lawsuit against the makers of JUUL e-cigarette products, indicating that the company purposefully preyed on youth in the community, and across the country, as part of an effort to try to get teens addicted to JUUL vaping.
In conjunction with the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office, Lake County filed a complaint against JUUL Labs on August 13 in the Circuit Court of Lake County, Illinois.
In recent years, JUUL vape pens have quickly grown to dominate the market for electronic cigarettes, especially among teens and young adults. However, they have also been linked to reports of nicotine addictions, respiratory issues and other health problems.
The JUUL vape pens are designed to look like USB thumb drives, allowing the vaping habit to be hidden from parents, teachers and other adults. In addition, the manufacturer sells the product in various candy-like flavors, which has resulted in a large number of teens and prior non-smokers begining to vape, and developing addictions to the high levels of nicotine contained in the pods.
Over the past year, a number of individual JUUL lawsuits have been filed on behalf of teens and young adults who have developed addictions or other injuries, as well as JUUL class action claims brought to recover damages for all consumers who have purchased the vape pods or may face future health consequences. However, this latest lawsuit is believed to be among the first filed by a local community to pursue damages incurred by the government from the e-cigarette manufacturer.
“By creating a high-quantity, rapid, nicotine delivery system, JUUL has turned a generation of adolescents into addicts, constantly craving their next hit off their JUUL,” the lawsuit states. “Because social media platforms, for example, are primarily used by adolescents, JUUL was able to easily target and manipulate youth by using advertisements designed to fulfill powerful psychological needs like popularity, peer acceptance, and a positive self-image. JUUL’s ads consistently used attractive young models smoking JUULs and partying in provocative, sexual settings to lure the next generation of nicotine addicts.”
The lawsuit indicates JUUL only curbed its behavior when its predatory practices became so obvious that the FDA started its own investigation. However, the lawsuit claims everything about JUULs, from ads with attractive young stars and models, to the flavors to the futuristic thumb-drive like design, was aimed at getting young people addicted.
Recent FDA data indicates teen e-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels. In fact, e-cigarettes have become the most popular form of tobacco among teens. JUUL dominates this underage nicotine use market.
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.
According to the complaint, 25% of Lake County 10th graders and 35% of Lake County 12th graders report vaping more than once per day in 2018.
The lawsuit claims JUUL is in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and also presents claims of negligence and unjust enrichment. The plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages.