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Teens and young adults under the age of 26 are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction from JUUL, according to allegations raised in a recently filed product liability lawsuit, which claims that the manufacturer specifically targeted those users to fuel sales of the e-cigarette and create a new generation of Americans addicted to nicotine.
In a complaint (PDF) filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on January 31, Daultin Payne indicates that he started using mango-flavored JUUL electronic cigarettes as a teenager, and is now addicted to nicotine from JUUL, which has caused a permanent injury to his developing brain and will result in a lifetime struggle with the addiction.
Payne joins a growing number of JUUL addiction lawsuits being pursued throughout the U.S. court system, alleging that JUUL Labs and the tobacco giant Altria Group, Inc. failed to disclose that it had manipulated the product to deliver “massive doses of nicotine”, which can cause immediate addiction among young users. However, the complaint indicates the companies engaged in this scheme for the intentional purpose of addicting young people to JUUL.
The lawsuit notes that experts have known nicotine was particularly addictive to those under the age of 26 for years, yet advertising for JUUL pods specifically targeted teens, young adults and prior smokers, featuring social media influencers and fruity flavors, which have since been removed from the market. However, it is too late for Payne and other users already addicted to nicotine in JUUL.
“When Plaintiff first started ‘JUULing,’ he was not aware of the dangers associated with JUUL, including the addiction and other harmful health effects it could cause. He was not aware of how much nicotine JUULs products contained,” the lawsuit states. “JUUL never disclosed to Plaintiff that it had manipulated the nicotine in its products to deliver massive doses of nicotine that could cause immediate addiction for the rest of his life.”
The lawsuit indicates Payne not only suffers from a nicotine addiction, but experiences other side effects of a vaping addiction, including chest pains. In addition, the complaint indicates that exposure to the toxic chemicals in JUUL may cause or contribute to causing disease, future health problems and other injuries.
JUUL was just introduced in 2015, but quickly became the most widely used vaping product among teens, following aggressive marketing efforts by the manufacturer. 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, the high levels of nicotine are delivered by each pod, making the device particularly addictive.
JUUL Teen 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.
A recent study found 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 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.
As a growing number of product liability and class action complaints continued to be filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, a panel of federal judges decided to in October to consolidate all JUUL nicotine addiction lawsuits before one judge in the federal court system, including both individual product liability claims filed by families, as well as complaints brought on behalf of school districts and other organizations.
JUUL cases pending throughout the federal court system will be consolidated before 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, and where five of the earliest complaints were filed.
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.