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A 20 year-old indicates that he and potentially millions of other young adults and teens in the United States were victims of an “orchestrated effort” by the makers of JUUL, which has resulted in widespread “JUULing” addictions due to high levels of nicotine delivered by the e-cigarettes.
In a complaint (PDF) filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Wayne Childs, Jr. indicates that he began using JUUL products at the age of 18, after exposure to advertising and promotional efforts that were designed to target teens and prior non-smoker
The advertisements portrayed “JUULing” as “fun, health and cool,” featuring young people vaping, which made it seem like JUUL was something he wanted to try. However, Childs indicates that he is now addicted to nicotine, and will face this addiction for the rest of his life.
“After using JUUL, Plaintiff became severely addicted to nicotine from his use of JUUL, causing him to increase his/her use over time and his reliance on the device and the nicotine it provided, even reaching the point of using up to one pod a day,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff uses JUUL constantly throughout the day, from the time he wakes in the morning and even finds himself awaking at night to use JUUL. Plaintiff now struggles to function without nicotine.”
JUUL was just introduced in 2015, it has quickly become the most common exposure to nicotine among teens and young adults in the United States, reversing years of decreases in smoking rates among the nation’s youth.
The e-cigarette was designed to look like a USB drive, allowing students and young users to hide their vaping habit from teachers, parents and other adults. The manufacturers also sold JUUL in a variety of flavors that were specifically designed to attract children.
“When Plaintiff first started JUULing, he was unaware that JUUL contained nicotine, how much nicotine a JUUL pod contained or delivered, or that JUUL had specifically been developed to maximize the addictive potential of nicotine,” according to the complaint filed by Childs. “Moreover, he was not aware that JUUL pods and JUUL’s aerosol contain toxic compounds; nor was he aware of the attendant dangers of vaping.”
Childs raises allegations that have been repeated throughout a growing number of JUULing lawsuits now being pursued by teens and families nationwide. Plaintiffs allege that JUUL specifically used research and records from the tobacco industry’s marketing of cigarettes to craft a product specifically meant to entice young people, get them hooked, and then create an entire generation of addicted customers.
Recent FDA data indicates teen e-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels in the United States. One 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.
On September 9, 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.
Earlier this year, JUUL announced it was removing all flavored products from the market, except mint, menthol and tobacco flavors.
Child’s case will be consolidated with other product liability lawsuits brought in the federal court system, which are currently centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III, in the Northern District of California.