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Amid continuing concerns about the nationwide epidemic of JUULing addictions among teens, which was fueled by aggressive marketing efforts by the manufacturer that targeted minors and prior non-smokers, a growing number of parents and young adults are now pursuing product liability lawsuits over life-long nicotine addictions that were allegedly caused by the design of the e-cigarette.
In a complaint (PDF) filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 18 year old Rosanna Wise indicates she developed a nicotine addiction from JUUL, alleging the e-cigarette not only contains high doses of nicotine, but delivers an aerosolized nicotine easily inhaled and rapidly absorbed by the body.
Wise indicates JUUL Labs orchestrated a youth-oriented marketing campaign and design, which has resulted in a new generation of teenagers and young adults addicted to nicotine, pursuing damages from the manufacturer and its parent companies, Altria Group and Philip Morris USA.
“Indeed, JUUL’s marketing efforts were so successful, and its product so pervasive among youth, that ‘JUULing’ — the act of smoking a JUUL — had become part of Generation Z’s lexicon,” the lawsuit states. “Utilizing youth tobacco advertising tactics forbidden to tobacco manufacture, JUUL became the most popular e-cigarette maker in the U.S. in less than three years, controlling more than 75 percent of the e-cigarette market and achieving a corporate valuation of $38 billion.”
The case raises allegations similar to those being presented in a growing number of JUUL lawsuits filed in courts throughout the U.S., indicating the manufacturer should be liable for causing ongoing nicotine addictions and a higher risk of developing a number of respiratory illnesses and suffering other side effects from vaping.
A recent study determined e-cigarette advertising reaches 80% of middle and high school students in the U.S. Another study warns 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.
The FDA, CDC and state health agencies are currently investigating hundreds of cases of respiratory illness linked to electronic cigarettes, and nearly 130 incidents of seizures, some of which have been specifically linked to JUUL use, according to internal FDA memos.
As lawyers continue review and file claims for teen nicotine addiction from JUULing, it is widely expected that thousands of cases may be filed throughout the federal court system in the coming months and years.