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The Pennsylvania Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the makers of JUUL, alleging the vape pods put the health of Pennsylvanians at risk, particularly its youth.
In a complaint (PDF) filed against JUUL Labs, Inc. in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on February 10, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is calling for JUUL products to be banned in the state.
The lawsuit indicates JUUL vape pods have caused a public health crisis in Pennsylvania, resulting in a nicotine addiction epidemic allegedly fueled by the manufacturer’s decision to specifically target JUUL advertisements toward teens, children and prior non-smokers, with disastrous results nationwide.
“JUUL knowingly targeted young people with tactics similar to the tobacco companies’ playbook,” Shapiro said in a press release. “There is no proof these e-cigarettes are safe and until there is, we need to get JUUL products off shelves and out of the hands of young people.”
JUUL was just introduced in 2015, but quickly became the most widely used vaping product among teens, following what critics say was an intentional marketing scheme that promoted the controversial vape pod toward young users, creating new nicotine addictions that are expected to drive JUUL sales for decades.
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, high levels of nicotine are delivered by each pod, making the device particularly addictive.
Shapiro further claims the manufacturer deceived consumers about the amount of nicotine in JUUL vape pods, participating in deceptive marketing tactics which targeted young people through social media, in violation of the state’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection laws.
The lawsuit calls for the court to demand JUUL stop production altogether or impose restrictions on how they are designed and marketed. It also calls for JUUL to pay for additional research, youth-oriented prevention and nicotine cessation programs.
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 this latest filing by Pennsylvania, 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.