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Plaintiffs nationwide continue to file product liability lawsuits over nicotine addictions caused by JUUL, indicating that teens and young adults are the hardest hit by the epidemic because the manufacturers intentionally targeted non-smokers with their advertising campaigns.
In a complaint (PDF) filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, nineteen year old Sydney Summers indicated she began vaping with JUUL products in 2017, while she was still a minor.
The lawsuit names JUUL Labs, Inc. and Pax Labs, Inc. as defendants, claiming the manufacturers misrepresented the safety of JUUL vaping pods and intentionally targeted teens, while failing to warn about the risk of nicotine addiction associated with their products.
“Defendants particularly targeted social media platforms used by adolescents, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Defendants also launched email campaigns that directly emailed advertisements to consumers, particularly minors,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants hired attractive young people to pose as models in their advertisements and to hand out free JUULS at events attended by adolescents, such as movie and music festivals. These models were seen wearing clothing styles attributable to teenagers and adolescents.”
JUUL was introduced in 2015, but quickly became the most widely used vaping product on the market, 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.
Nicotine warnings were first added to JUUL products in 2018, long after a new generation of teens in the United States became addicted to vaping. Each JUUL pod is the equivalent of about an entire pack of cigarettes, yet they were marketed as a safer alternative to smoking and were promoted for user by teens, young adults and prior non-smokers.
The addictive JUUL pods are designed to look like USB drives, allowing students to hide their vaping habit from teachers, parents and other adults. The high levels of nicotine delivered by each pod, have resulted in a new generation of Americans left with a life-long nicotine addiction.
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 Summers’ complaint, 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.