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A South Carolina boy and his parents have filed a lawsuit alleging the teen was lured into a JUUL nicotine addiction by the aggressive and illegal marketing efforts of the e-cigarette manufacturer, which intentionally targeted youths.
The complaint (PDF) was filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina by a minor identified only by the initials “R.G.”, as well as by his mother, Kathleen Greenhill. According to the lawsuit, the defendants, JUUL Labs., Pax Labs, Altria, and Philip Morris USA, Inc., conspired to specifically target children in hopes of getting them illegally addicted to JUUL vaping products.
“R.G. is a social and bright teenager who is now a victim of Defendants’ orchestrated efforts to addict a new generation of teenagers to nicotine,” the lawsuit states. “While just fifteen years old, R.G. developed a severe nicotine addiction through use of the JUUL, an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) or e-cigarette. This extreme addiction, particularly in his vulnerable, developing brain, and is continued use of JUUL, has resulted in permanent injuries.”
The lawsuit indicates R.G. was seduced by ads and promotions, and through friends at school, who said using JUUL products was cool and safe. He first tried JUUL in August 2017, and became addicted to nicotine released by the vape pods.
JUUL was just introduced in 2015, but quickly became the most widely used vaping product on the market, following a marketing scheme that promoted the controversial vape pens toward young users, creating new nicotine addictions that are expected to drive JUUL sales for decades.
While nicotine warnings were not added until 2018, each JUUL pod is the equivalent of about an entire pack of cigarettes. The products 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.
R.G.’s complaint joins similar JUUL lawsuits filed nationwide, which say the company misrepresented the safety of its products and that it specifically targeted children in hopes of creating a generation of young addicts who would buy their products for decades.
As a result, 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.
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.