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A growing number of JUUL lawsuits are being filed by parents and young adults, alleging that the manufacturer illegally marketed the e-cigarette to minors, getting them addicted to nicotine and resulting in other side effects associated with vaping.
One of the latest complaints was filed by three individuals from Wisconsin, who each indicate they were under the age of 18 when they became addicted to JUUL vaping products, due to the high levels of nicotine contained in each pod.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed by Cora Johnson, Joshua Kelly, and Jasmine Rosenblatt in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, naming JUUL Labs, Inc.; Pax Labs, Inc., and Altria Group, Inc. as defendants.
Johnson indicates that she was 17 years old when she started vaping with JUUL, while Kelly and Rosenblatt each indicate they were only 16 years old when they first used the popular e-cigarettes.
Following regular use of the product, each of the young plaintiffs indicate that they have now been left addicted to JUULing and suffer various lung problems. The lawsuit indicates that their addiction was a direct and intended result of JUUL’s advertising strategy in recent years, which targeted teens and other non-smokers as part of an effort to create a new generation of children hooked on their nicotine products.
“[Plaintiffs] are among the millions of youths who have been severely and negatively impacted by Defendants’ campaign to promote and sell a highly addictive product as if it was safe, fun and appropriate for recreational use by young people when it is nothing of the kind,” the lawsuit states. “The JUUL Vaping Products that were sold to Plaintiffs and millions of other adolescents are highly addictive, no safer than cigarettes, cause permanent injuries to adolescents and have been landing teens around the country and in Wisconsin in the hospital with severe respiratory illnesses.”
The lawsuit notes that the use of e-cigarettes among teens is higher than the use among adults. It indicates JUUL duped teens into thinking their products were safe, to the point where some did not even realize they contained nicotine.
The use of JUUL among teens in the U.S. has reached epidemic levels in the few years since the product was introduced, frustrating many health experts, given progress the nation had made in recent years lowering tobacco use among teenagers. Much of that work has now been undone by JUUL, which were often advertised as safer than cigarettes, which is not the case.
JUUL and E-cigarette Lung Concerns
In addition to addiction problems, each of the plaintiffs in this latest complaint point to various health complications suffered as a result of vaping. Johnson indicates that she now experiences difficulty breathing and a “productive cough”, which she did not experience before JUULing. Kelly indicates that he has been left with lung problems, as well as fatigue caused by his use of JUUL e-cigarettes.
Federal and state health officials are now investigating more than 800 reports involving vaping pulmonary disease, including 12 deaths, linked to JUUL and other e-cigarette products. As a result of the lung concerns, consumers have been urged to stop using all vaping products, and many critics indicate that health officials have ignored signs of problems for years.
Amid increasing concerns about the potential side effects of JUUL and use among teens, the manufacturer announced last week that it will suspend all broadcast, print and digital marketing in the United States, and the CEO of the company has been replaced by an executive from the tobacco company Altria.
In addition to lung problems from vaping, federal health officials are also investigating other health concerns. In August 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicated that the agency had received at least 127 reports of seizures from vaping, and it is widely expected that number has risen dramatically in recent months as consumer awareness has increased about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
While many consumers believe these health concerns are a new discovery, researchers have been warning about potential side effects of vaping for years.
As JUUL continued to market their products to teens and young adults, studies published in prominent medical journals have linked e-cigarette use to a risk of pneumonia, fungal infections of the lungs, seizures and other respiratory health risks.
Last week, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation heard oral arguments in a motion that seeks to centralize all JUUL vaping lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system before one judge, for coordinate discovery and pretrial proceedings.
As more parents and young adults learn that their JUUL addiction and various lung problems may have been caused by a coordinated marketing effort by the manufacturer, it is widely expected that thousands of claims will be filed nationwide.