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Chicago Files E-Cigarette Lawsuit Over Flavored Tobacco After New Tobacco Regulations
February 2, 2021 - The city of Chicago has sued an e-cigarette seller over its alleged sales of flavored tobacco products and for marketing to minors, saying the sit flaunts its defiance of both federal regulations and local age restrictions on buying tobacco and electronic cigarettes.
The complaint states that Vapes.com, which is owned by Equte LLC, markets and sells flavored e-cigarettes to residents, despite a new law passed in September that makes it illegal to sell such products to Chicagoans.
“E-Cigarettes are unhealthy and addictive, and businesses deliberately target young people in the hope that they’ll develop lifelong customers,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “The City of Chicago’s message to vaping companies is clear: If you break the law, we will go after you, especially if you try to sell to our youth.”
While the minimum age for buying tobacco in Chicago is 21 years old, Vapes.com and its social media platforms only ask that users be 18 and over and don’t employ the “age gate” features that YouTube and Instagram offer.
The city say it has filed a number of lawsuits against vape companies for selling to underage Chicagoans, but this is the first suit seeking to enforce the recently passed prohibition against flavored vaping products.
As the FDA began its crackdown on the vaping industry last year for allegedly targeting minors and getting them addicted to nicotine, it warned retailers about selling fruit-flavored e-cigarette products without approval.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries related to Juul or other e-cigarettes, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses through a Juul lawsuit or e-cigarette lawsuit. Contact TorHoerman Law today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options with an experienced Juul lawyer. You can also use our chatbot below to get an instant online case evaluation for free. TorHoerman Law is a leading law firm in the ongoing Juul lawsuit. We have a team of experienced lawyers and staff ready to fight for you.
Individuals, including teens with no previous smoking experiences, that were led to believe that Juul was “better than smoking” or “a safer alternative to smoking” are finding themselves addicted to Juul and are now suffering serious health issues. Individuals who are fighting addiction and life-threatening health effects associated with Juul are currently hiring a Juul lawyer to file a Juul lawsuit in order to receive compensation for the damages that they have incurred as a result of Juul’s negligence and false marketing. The manufacturer failed to warn about Juul dangers, and now thousands of youth, adults, and individuals trying to quit smoking are suffering the consequences for Juul’s actions. If you have suffered an injury because of Juul, you may be eligible to participate in a Juul lawsuit or e-cigarette lawsuit.
The Juul case will hold Juul accountable for their actions and for the youth vaping epidemic that they have created.
Watch our lead Juul lawyer, Jake Plattenberger, explain the ongoing Juul lawsuit on NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt.
Juul – manufactured by Juul Labs – is the popular USB-shaped smoking device that has recently captivated the e-cigarette market. Its sleek, concealable shape and array of fruity flavors make it the favored choice for both adult and teen smokers.
Contrary to Juul Labs’ claims that Juuling is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, recent studies have found that Juul and other e-cigarettes actually expose users to a number of dangerous health risks commonly associated with cigarettes.
Researchers have also found links to risks not commonly associated with traditional cigarettes, such as e-cigarette users’ higher likelihood of developing bronchiolitis obliterans (more commonly referred to as “popcorn lung“). While research into Juul is still in its early stages, experts are already warning personal injury law firms, such as TorHoerman Law, to be prepared for a massive increase in e-cigarette lawsuits. With the continued rise in Juul’s popularity, paralleled by continued research illustrating Juul’s health risks, Juul lawsuits are beginning to be filed on behalf of Juul smokers nationwide. There is at least one Juul lawsuit filed in a number of state courts by state attorneys, as well as individual Juul lawsuits filed by private practices like TorHoerman Law.
If you use Juul or any other form of e-cigarettes, we urge you to read the following information as well as to conduct your own research on Juul dangers before you continue using these products.
In addition, if you find that you are now addicted to Juul or that you are suffering from any injuries associated with Juul, consider joining other individuals in fighting back against the company that should have warned you and file a Juul lawsuit.
E-cigarettes have become extremely popular in recent years, with e-cigarette use increasing 10-fold between 2011 and 2016. Juul currently holds more than 75% of shares in the e-cigarette market – a major market that is expected to be worth $86.43 billion by 2025 – making it by far the most popular e-cigarette available to consumers, with company futures expected to reach $43+ billion.
Juul was popularized within the last decade primarily due to the company’s aggressive online social media marketing campaign, which advertised its product as a “safer alternative” for individuals trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. The general public, especially youth and young adults responded positively to e-cigarette marketing efforts, especially the deceitful tactics used by Juul.
Since the introduction of their marketing campaigns, Juul and other e-cigarette manufacturers have faced heavy scrutiny for these marketing tactics, with accusations that the companies were deliberately targeting youth in an effort to create an entirely new generation of smokers.
There is now an “epidemic” of Juul and e-cigarette youth smokers, which has raised concerns of communities, states, and even federal agencies. Shocking reports have shown a continual rise in the number of youth Juul and e-cigarette smokers that has led the federal government to label youth vaping as a “nationwide epidemic”.
The initial state Juul lawsuit, which was filed in North Carolina, contributed Juul’s popularity amongst teens to their advertising efforts that marketed teens and the fruity flavored pods that Juul sold. In response, Juul removed flavored pods sales to certain businesses, such as gas stations. The company also made an effort to minimize its presence on social media and put up additional hurdles to top underage youth from purchasing their product. Despite these efforts, Juul’s popularity within the teen demographic has continued to grow. During the span of Juul’s initial marketing campaign, the company was extremely successful in creating thousands of new smokers who are now extremely nicotine dependent. They also succeeded in making Juul a social phenomenon, using their marketing campaign to establish an air of coolest around Juul, especially for youth.
Now, the company faces a state Juul lawsuit in Illinois and other states who believe that Juul popularity amongst teens is a result of the company’s targeted marketing of youth.
There are a number of factors that can be attributed to Juul’s ability to break through the flooded e-cigarette market and establish itself as the leading brand for e-cigarettes, but one of the largest contributing factors is Juul successful campaign advertising Juul as a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Through their advertising campaign, Juul swayed public opinion to believe that Juul is a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes and an effective way to quit smoking. But, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, the chemical flavorings and additives in e-cigarettes can potentially cause more damage to the lungs than the damage caused by traditional cigarettes.
The FDA has stepped in to correct this claim, telling Juul that there is no evidence to substantiate that Juul is a safer alternative to cigarettes. The FDA warned that, by making these claims, Juul is a direct violation of federal law. Juul has been asked to provide evidence to prove these claims.
There are a number of serious adverse effects associated with nicotine dependence. Juul users report experiencing:
If you are a Juul user and you have experienced one or more of these effects, you should stop smoking Juul right away. You may also qualify to participate in a Juul lawsuit if you have experienced any of these health effects.
Researchers now categorize all Juul, e-cigarette and vaping-related injuries as EVALI. If you or a loved one has suffered an e-cigarette or vaping-related injury, you may be eligible to file an EVALI lawsuit. Contact TorHoerman Law to learn more.
The dangers of Juul and other popular e-cigarettes continue to make headlines. While symptoms and health risks of vaping such as addiction, nicotine poisoning, and respiratory damage have been well documented, a Canadian teen was reportedly hospitalized because of a newfound vaping-related condition known as popcorn lung. The illness is caused by inhaling vapors of the chemical diacetyl which causes damage to a person’s airways and makes it difficult to breathe.
According to the American Lung Association, popcorn lung (bronchitis obliterans) is a lung disease in which the alveoli, the tiny air sacs responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide, become scarred. This causes the thickening and narrowing of the lungs’ airways making it difficult to breathe. Additional symptoms include a dry cough, fatigue, and wheezing that isn’t from asthma or a cold. If left untreated, popcorn lung can develop into full respiratory collapse and is potentially fatal.
Popcorn lung is caused by breathing in diacetyl, an organic compound used to give foods and additives an artificial flavoring. Diacetyl was most common in processed foods with a butter-like taste including popcorn, potato chips, crackers, and corn chips. Diacetyl was removed from major popcorn manufacturers’ products after the workers became sick from breathing in the chemical. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that breathing in diacetyl is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. The ALA says the chemical has been responsible for deaths and hundreds of cases of bronchitis obliterans. Diacetyl is present in many vaping products’ fluids.
A teenager in Canada who routinely used e-cigarettes developed a unique, near-fatal lung condition that does mirror the vaping-related illnesses sweeping the United States. Brittany Shammas of the Washington Post reported that doctors said the 17-year-old’s condition resembles “popcorn lung,” an illness that was previously seen in popcorn factory workers who inhaled heated vapors of a toxic chemical used to produce butter flavoring known as diacetyl.
The teen was admitted to a London, Ontario, hospital for coughing, shortness of breath, and a fever. He had been “intensively” vaping e-cigarettes for months and used flavored nicotine cartridges as well as THC devices. His condition progressively intensified during his first few weeks in the hospital, and he eventually needed a ventilator to breathe and was placed on life support. The teenager was sent home after 47 days in the hospital and could have sustained chronic lung damage.
Doctors at the hospital said the teen’s condition was not something they see often. Practitioners initially suspected the patient had bronchiolitis, a lung condition usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, but the tests returned negative. His condition suggested a potential development of bronchiolitis obliterans, the medical term for “popcorn lung.” Popcorn lung is a condition that affects the lungs’ airways, named after cases of workers who developed the ailment while working at microwave popcorn factories nearly 20 years ago. Popcorn lung is caused by inhaling heated fumes of diacetyl, an artificial chemical flavoring agent.
Diacetyl is used in many e-cigarette flavors, causing concerns amongst health officials that popcorn lung could affect vapers. The American Lung Association requested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration call for the removal of diacetyl and other unsafe chemicals from e-cigarette cartridges. The teens’ doctors said that the “exact mechanism of injury and causative agent are unknown,” but noted “the need for further research into all potentially toxic components of e-liquids and tighter regulation of e-cigarettes.”
Juul maintains that its products do not contain diacetyl, the chemical responsible for causing popcorn lung. However, there has been at least one confirmed case of a Juul user developing popcorn lung, causing concern among users and health officials. Researchers are currently studying links between Juul and popcorn lung to determine if the company’s products contain diacetyl and/or cause popcorn lung.
There is at least one confirmed case of a Juul user who developed popcorn lung, but there are other potential cases also being investigated as well . Researchers are currently studying the possible link between Juul and popcorn lung. Juul maintains that there are no dangerous popcorn lung-causing chemicals in their product. But new Juul popcorn lung cases have caused concern amongst Juul users and health officials.
Learn more about Juul popcorn lung in our litigation update section below.
According to a report published in Environmental Health Perspectives, many e-cigarette liquids contain diacetyl, the chemical responsible for popcorn lung. The study’s authors tested 51 flavored e-cigarette liquids and found diacetyl in 39 of them. The findings worry researchers who noted the documented evidence that inhaling diacetyl is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.
“Because of the associations between diacetyl and bronchitis obliterans (popcorn lung) and other severe respiratory diseases observed in workers, urgent action is recommended to further evaluate this potentially widespread exposure via flavored e-cigarettes,” the report said.
Research in the study was supported by the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences center grant P30ES000002. The authors declared that they do not have actual or potential competing financial interests.
Independent researchers are conducting studies testing the validity of Juul’s claims that their products do not contain diacetyl. The company said that in tests, the company has not found any measurable amounts of diacetyl in vapors emitted from its devices. Juul’s e-cigarette liquid is currently known to contain glycerol, propylene glycol, nicotine, benzoic acid, and food-grade flavoring.
As the FDA warning letter made clear, there is currently no evidence that Juul is safer than cigarettes.
Not only that, but the concentration of nicotine in each Juul pod is a major cause for concern – the concentration of nicotine in Juul is one of the primary issues made against Juul in the Juul lawsuit.
Juul and e-cigarettes put users at risk of developing injuries associated with nicotine use. Because, although some users are unaware, Juul pods do actually contain high quantities of nicotine. In general, e-cigarettes contain a lower dose of nicotine, ranging from 6 to 30 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid. However, Juul contains a much higher concentration of nicotine: 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid.
In fact, according to Juul, one Juul pod contains about the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. Experts argue that a Juul pod actually contains more nicotine than a pack of cigarettes because some of the nicotine in cigarettes is lost to filtration. But Juuls do not have filters, so there is no nicotine loss through filtration when a user is smoking a Juul pod. This high dose of nicotine puts users at risk of both nicotine-related injuries and nicotine addiction.
Although Juul is advertised as both a safer alternative to cigarettes and an effective way to quit smoking, neither of these claims are actually supported by fact.
There is no evidence to support the claim that Juul is a reliable tool for quitting smoking. On the contrary, Juul contains as much, if not more nicotine than cigarettes. Because nicotine is the substance responsible for giving cigarettes their addictive nature, there is no reason to believe that Juul will help alleviate addiction. Some other e-cigarette brands offering lower mg/ml of nicotine may be more beneficial in lowering nicotine dependence, Juul cannot. Juul users are reporting serious injuries resulting from both nicotine dependence while using Juul and nicotine withdrawal when trying to quit Juul.
Individuals suffering from symptoms relating to nicotine dependence and nicotine withdrawal may qualify to participate in a Juul lawsuit or e-cigarette lawsuit.
A research study has revealed that high levels of nicotine concentrations found in Juul e-cigarettes are “sufficiently high to be cytotoxic, or toxic to living cells when test in vitro with cultured respiratory system cells.”
Of the hundreds of electronic cigarette products analyzed by the research team, Juul was the only product with high enough nicotine concentrations to be toxic in standard cytotoxicity tests.
Of the eight different flavors manufactured and sold by Juul Labs, the study found differing levels of cytotoxicity. “We found some flavor chemicals, such as ethyl maltol, also correlate with cytotoxicity, but nicotine seems to be the most potent chemical in Juul products, due to it very high concentration,” according to the research team leader Prue Talbot, professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology at the University of California, Riverside.
Although federal regulations limit the sales of Juul products to individuals 21 years and older, Juuling still remains prominent among adolescents, primarily middle-school and high-school-aged youth. James F. Pankow, a professor of chemistry as well as civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University, Oregon and a member of the research team, explained that experts are still unsure of the long-term adverse health effects with chronic Juul use. There is a growing concern amongst experts and the FDA that high doses of nicotine found in Juul products could affect the still-developing adolescent brain, especially when considering the cytotoxic effects Juul products have been found to have.
Like Juul, e-cigarette manufacturers often advertise their products as being a safer alternative to cigarettes and free of the many harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. However, what most e-cigarette companies fail to warn consumers of is that their products contain diacetyl: a chemical that, if vaporized, is highly toxic and can have detrimental health effects to those who are exposed to its vapors. The most common injury associated with diacetyl vapor exposure is bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung), a rare condition that damages your lung’s small airways, making it difficult to breathe and causing individuals to experience aggressive coughing spirts. If untreated, popcorn lung can degenerate into total respiratory collapse, which can be fatal. Also known as coffee lung, it can also be found in manufacturing facilities that produce animal food, gum, or other food products.
In its natural form, diacetyl is a harmless additive, used to enhance the flavoring of e-liquids. But when heated in an e-cigarette, diacetyl is transformed into its hazardous vaporized state.
The health risks of e-cigarettes differ depending on which brand you choose. If you choose to Juul, you are choosing to use a product that has a higher concentration of nicotine than normal cigarettes but does not contain dangerous diacetyl. If you choose to use most other e-cigarettes, you are choosing a product that has a lower concentration of nicotine compared to cigarettes, but you are likely also putting yourself at risk of developing popcorn lung. Either way, you are still putting your health at risk because e-cigarette dangers are apparent in all e-cigarette products.
The American Journal of Physiology study found that other chemical additives found in e-cigarettes previously thought to be safe, such as propylene glycol, may be responsible for causing respiratory inflammation and other pulmonary problems.
While some e-cigarettes, such as the popular Juul e-cigarette, do not contain diacetyl, almost all do contain propylene glycol and other potentially harmful chemicals. A number of the flavor chemicals used in most e-liquids also contain aldehydes, which, when inhaled, can irritate the mucosal tissue in the respiratory tract.
The new research linking these chemical additives to lung inflammation may challenge Juul’s (and other manufacturers’) claims that their products are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes.
The study published in the American Journal of Physiology, which was conducted by medical investigators at the University of Athens, Greece, found that when vaporized, the chemical flavorings and additives can cause considerable inflammation in the lungs. According to researchers, even short-term e-cigarette use can induce significant inflammatory lung damage. Although this inflammation does not appear to pose a cancer risk, there are a number of other serious health risks associated with this kind of respiratory strain.
“Electronic cigarettes are advertised as a less harmful nicotine delivery system or as a new smoking cessation tool. Our findings suggest that exposure to e-cig vapor can trigger inflammatory responses and adversely affect respiratory system mechanics.” explained the study’s co-author Dr. Constantinos Glynos.
Experts in the field say that this first-stage exploratory research, which was conducted on lab mice, should have been initiated years ago before e-cigarettes gained market approval.
“They [e-cigarettes] hit the market around 2006, 2007 before research could be conducted to determine what the potential problems would be. The manufacturers were the ones telling us that these products were safe to use,” explained Dr. Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control, a division of Northwell Health in Great Neck.
These e-cigarette manufacturers never actually tested the potential health risks of their products but based their safety claims about these flavorings and additives on previous approvals made by the FDA for a variety of food additives. As Dr. Folan accentuated in her comments, these flavorings and additives were deemed safe for consumption, but no tests were conducted on the long-term effects of inhaling these chemicals in their vaporized state. Only now, more than a decade later, are the first third-party researchers exposing e-cigarette dangers and Juul dangers.
Unfortunately, it may now be too late. The long-term effects of exposure to these chemicals could be detrimental to the millions of U.S. smokers who have made the switch to e-cigarettes and Juul.
With this new revelation of e-cigarette dangers, experts are calling for further research into the potential short-term and long-term effects of e-cigarette use.
“The observed detrimental effects in the lung upon e-cigarette vapor exposure in animal models highlight the need for further investigation of safety and toxicity of these rapidly expanding devices worldwide,” Dr. Glynos said.
Cigarettes are bad for you – but e-cigarettes are by no means a lesser of two evils. E-cigarettes, be it Juul or any other popular brand, still put you at risk of developing a serious and potentially fatal injury.
If we know about Juul dangers and e-cigarette dangers, why have the number of users been steadily increasing over time?
E-cigarettes feature two characteristics that make them appealing to smokers: enticing flavors that cut out the “bad taste” of cigarettes (1) and a concealable shape that allows them to be smoked virtually anywhere (2).
Juul offers users a range of enticing flavors, such as fruit medley, mango, cool cucumber, and crème Brulee. These flavors not only taste better but also reduce some of the social stigmas of smoking by eliminating the smoking odor. Federal law prohibits cigarette companies from selling flavored tobaccos, citing flavored tobacco’s appeal to youth smokers. But Juul and other e-cigarettes are able to circumnavigate these laws because they are not technically selling flavored tobacco, but rather a flavored e-liquid containing nicotine. A number of advocacy groups, lawsuits filed against Juul, and even state and federal governments are currently challenging e-cigarette manufacturers’ ability to offer flavors other than traditional cigarette flavors. At this time, flavors are still available to consumers.
The presence of diacetyl in non-Juul e-liquids is a result of these flavors. While not all flavors include diacetyl, many do. Diacetyl is most prevalent in both sweet and buttery flavors: flavors like butterscotch, coffee, candy, peppermint, and chocolate.
Juul has also faced scrutiny for using its popular fruity flavors to entice youth. There is currently a Juul lawsuit filed by state attorneys in numerous states claiming that Juuls flavors are a major contributor to the youth vaping epidemic.
The FDA is currently working on a plan to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products. This would limit Juul to only their less popular tobacco-flavored products.
E-cigarettes vary in shape, size, and design. But most e-cigarettes are either small enough to conceal from others or they designed to look more like an electronic device than a smoking apparatus. Either way, it is hard for most non-users to distinguish an e-cigarette as a smoking device. E-cigarettes almost never give off a smoky aroma. Almost all e-cigarette exhalants are waterbased, so they put off a “cloud” of what is essentially water vapor. For these reasons, e-cigarettes are easier to conceal and their use in public is more socially accepted.
Juul distinguishes itself from other e-cigarettes because it is the most easily concealable of all e-cigarettes. Juul’s sleek shape is often confused as being a USB-drive; the fact that it is charged using a USB outlet only further aids in this confusion. The device is small enough to fit in the closed palm of a person’s hand, unlike most other e-cigarettes which are much larger. Juul vapor is water-based and almost completely odorless, so users can smoke it indoors, in public, or in group settings without others noticing.
Because it is so easy to conceal, youth have no issue with hiding the devices in public settings, including in school. Some schools are facing such issues with students using Juul on the premises, they are now beginning to take action. Schools have reportedly gone as far as removing bathroom stall doors to prevent students from smoking their Juul.
Companies are now selling products such as phone cases and hoodies specially designed to make it even easier to hide a Juul.
Nearly half of all Twitter users who followed Juul last year were between the ages of 13 and 17, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Juul’s sleek & concealable shape, a range of enticing flavors, odorless vapor exhalant, and mischaracterization as a healthy alternative to cigarettes has led it to become the name-brand of e-cigarettes. Juul has helped to end the social stigmas surrounding smoking.
This is unfortunate, especially for the anti-smoking advocacy groups who have been on a decades’ long mission to build those social stigmas around smoking. Those stigmas were built on a foundation that emphasized the health effects of cigarettes, cigarettes off-putting smell, and the dangers of secondhand smoke. Juul claims to offer a solution to all of these issues: Their product is supposedly safe (although there is no evidence of this), odorless, and there is no secondhand smoke.
Unfortunately, the demographic that seems to be most susceptible to this false advertising is teenagers. Until recently, nicotine use amongst teens had been on a steady decline since the mid-1990s. But with the introduction of Juul and other e-cigarettes, nicotine use is once again on the rise amongst teens.
At least 11% of middle school and high school students admit to using Juul. This number is also rising.
According to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, around 33% of these teen users say that the availability of flavors is the main reason that they use this product. Another 39% attributed their use to a family member or friend who also used them. 17% claimed that they used Juul products because they believed them to be less harmful than other forms of tobacco – and the misconceptions about the health risks associated with Juul / e-cigarettes are rampant in the teenage demographic.
In fact, a majority of youth e-cigarette users think that they vaped only flavoring, not any nicotine, the last time they used an e-cigarette, according to a study conducted at the University of Michigan. Another study, conducted by the Truth Initiative, found that 63% of Juul users between 15 and 24 years old did not know that the product always contained nicotine – a chemical known to be harmful to adolescent brain development.
Teens that find themselves addicted to Juul should consider filing a Juul lawsuit while they now fight for their health.
Juul has come under scrutiny by a number of advocacy groups, state and federal healthcare officials who claim that Juul’s advertising campaign is devised to attract teens. Both state and private action Juul lawsuits have cited marketing techniques such as the use of bright colors, youthful imagery, and the promotion of fruity flavors offered by Juul as marketing efforts made by Juul to specifically target the youth market.
Juul has also become something of a social phenomenon, taking over social media platforms, such as Instagram, which is popular with youth culture. On any given platform, you can find trending hashtags like #DoItForTheJuul, where teens post images of themselves using Juul and other e-cigarettes. Admittedly, Juul has made an effort to reduce their social media presence, but only after public pressure and the initial Juul lawsuit.
Juul’s concealable shape and odorless fume exhalant also make it attractive to teens, who have found it easy to use at home, in public, and even in school, under the watchful eye of adults.
Matt Myers, head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says that the youth’s fascination with Juul and e-cigarettes could quite possibly develop into a future health catastrophe – a whole generation of young adults could become addicted to nicotine for life.
Federal health officials are now calling youth Juuling a nationwide epidemic.
While Juul claims that the e-cigarette was designed specifically as a healthier alternative for adult smokers to curb their cigarettes addiction, experts continue to argue that Juul’s sleek & easily-concealable shape, odorless vapor exhalant, range of enticing liquid flavors, and early onset social media marketing campaigns indicate that these e-cigarettes were meant to appeal to a younger audience– and they have.
“I’ve never seen a tobacco-related product spread across this country as fast among young people as this product,” explained Matt Myers, head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Everyone was asleep at the switch, and by the time we woke up, we had an epidemic on our hand.”
Juul’s façade flash drive size and shape, paired with its odorless exhalant, allow teens to hide their smoking habits from adults in plain sight. Kids are taking full advantage of the cloaked smoking apparatus, Juuling anywhere and everywhere that they can, without the knowledge of their parents. You can find evidence all across social media, in classrooms, in close proximity to adults, and in public settings. It has become something of a communal challenge within the younger generation, promoted through social media, where those who are willing to go the furthest to test the limits of smoking their Juul in public receive the highest praise.
In a way, Juul has made smoking “cool” again. After years of advocacy efforts spent campaigning against the popularity of tobacco use, anti-smoking groups were able to create stigmatization around cigarettes. Defamed for their off-putting smell and life-threatening health consequences, cigarette use amongst students began to decline beginning in the mid-1990s.
But with the introduction of odorless e-cigarettes, advertised as a healthier alternative to traditional smoking, Juul has made smoking socially acceptable again. Student tobacco use is once again on the rise, an alarming trend for parents.
Even more alarming, Juuling has spread from high school-aged students, and now engulfs middle schools nationwide.”Juuling is a huge problem for middle school and high school students. When I walk into my local gas station, which is less than a mile from the local high school, there is a huge advertisement on the door and the Juuling devices and pods are kept on the front counter instead of back behind where the other tobacco products are located. I’ve wondered “Why is this allowed for these devices, which contains nicotine just like a cigarette?” These devices are so small and hard to detect when used it is making it even harder for adults to monitor. Not to mention we have no idea what the long-term effects of using these devices are on young people. It is truly scary the speed of which the popularity of these devices has grown for our youth.” explained Stacy Laurent-Smith, a concerned parent & public school educator.
Juul’s market shares are booming. Even within an exploding industry full of competitors, Juul stands alone as the kingpin of e-cigarettes. But, how do we face the problem head-on?
As lawyers, we see entirely too often the dangers of chemical exposures. E-cigarettes, as science and studies are beginning to show, will prove to be no different. As parents, we can sit down with our children and have a conversation about Juuling dangers. But, what do we say that will actually provoke our children to make good decisions and say no to Juuling? First things first, know the facts.
The statistics are staggering. E-cigarettes are not good for you, despite all of the advertisements that portray otherwise. Is it alarming that our children are falling prey to enticing marketing? Yes. But, one conversation could help save your child from harmful and potentially deadly side effects down the road.
Find a time to have a courteous, open conversation with your child. They’ll have questions, and you may not have all of the answers, but most important is they become aware of the Juuling dangers and risks. The companies that produce e-cigarettes copied the playbook of the tobacco industry from the 1950s. The only difference? We have social media that propels ideas into a phenomenon, but at the same time, side effects and dangers are quicker to be exposed.
Before the first Juul lawsuit or e-cigarette lawsuit was even filed, experts had already been warning lawyers to begin preparing for a flood of Juul lawsuit injury case intakes. Now, Juul attorneys are receiving countless new cases of teens and young adults suffering serious injuries because of Juul and other e-cigarettes. So, please take the time to talk to your children about the Juul dangers and the dangers of e-cigarettes.
Personal injury attorneys are now talking to a large number of individuals who want to file a Juul case. Juul lawsuit intakes and e-cigarette lawsuit case intakes, which are only expected to continue growing as more information comes to light about the adverse health risked associated with Juul.
Currently, TorHoerman Law is filing lawsuits on behalf of teens who became addicted to Juul as a result of a misunderstanding of the risks as a result of a targeted marketing campaign. Some of the injuries claimed in the teen Juul case are as follows:
In addition, TorHoerman Law represents previous non-smokers who believe they have vaping lung. These individuals may have used an e-cigarette brand other than Juul such as Vuse, Njoy or Blu.
We need to hold Juul and the other e-cigarette companies accountable for their negligent actions, failure to warn consumers about dangers, and violations of consumer fraud laws. The liability for your injuries falls on Juul and the e-cigarette companies. The best way to do so is by fighting back and stopping companies like Juul, Vuse, Njoy or Blu from injuring more people, especially our youth.
If you or a loved one believe that you qualify to participate in a Juul lawsuit, contact an experienced Juul lawyer at TorHoerman Law today. TorHoerman Law offers free, no-obligation Juul lawsuit case consultations for anyone who has suffered an injury because of Juul.
If you are considering filing a Juul lawsuit, or you have already signed a contract, there are a few steps that you can take to prepare your case. Your Juul lawyer will go over these as well, but it is good to familiarize yourself with these steps and begin collecting information for your case as soon as possible.
The most important step: STOP USING JUUL RIGHT AWAY. If you have suffered injuries related to Juul, you should try to mitigate these injuries to the best of your ability. One of the best ways to mitigate injury is to discontinue using Juul. We understand that Juul is a highly addictive substance and it is not possible for some individuals to stop. If stopping your Juul use causes you to suffer serious physical or mental injury, you do not need to stop altogether, but you should try to slowly decrease your Juul use.
After you have stopped or at least decreased your Juul use. One of the next steps in a Juul lawsuit is gathering evidence. In a Juul lawsuit, some of the best evidence that you can provide your Juul attorney shows how often you used Juul products and how those products caused your injuries. Evidence you should begin collecting right away may include:
* You should begin keeping a journal detailing the history of your Juul use, the progression of your injuries or addiction, and any other pertinent information regarding your case, including communications with healthcare professionals about your injuries.
After you have started to gather evidence, the next step in your Juul lawsuit will be to assess damages. Many individuals involved in a Juul lawsuit will claim both compensatory and punitive.
Your Juul lawsuit damages may include:
Your Juul lawyer will be able to help you assess damages and fight to see that you receive compensation for the total costs of your injuries.
For free, no-obligation chemical exposure, Juul lawsuit, or e-cigarette lawsuit case consultation, contact the offices of TorHoerman Law today. One of our experienced investigation team members would be happy to discuss your potential Juul lawsuit/e-cigarette lawsuit, free of charge.
At TorHoerman Law, our Juul lawyer team is one of the most experienced representing plaintiffs in the ongoing Juul lawsuit. If you have used Juul or similar products and have suffered an injury or illness, you may qualify to participate in the Juul lawsuit. Contact TorHoerman Law to talk directly to our Juul lawyer team today. A Juul lawyer would be happy to talk to you about your potential Juul lawsuit, free of charge.
TorHoerman Law – Your Juul Lawyer
Juul, Altria Must Face Public Nuisance and Negligence Claims
October 27, 2020 - Consumers and government entities accusing Juul and Altria of unleashing a youth vaping epidemic cleared a hurdle in sprawling multidistrict litigation against the companies when a California federal judge found that their public nuisance and negligence claims pass legal muster.
In a 152-page order, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick said the plaintiffs accusing the companies of deceptively marketing vaporizers to hook kids on nicotine had adequately pled their cases, rejecting a host of arguments by Juul Labs Inc. and Altria Group Inc.
He said the complaints adequately claimed that Juul’s conduct – such as target social media marketing and sale of mango-and mint-flavored products – “created and maintained an illicit youth market of school-age youth addicted to nicotine, causing extreme disruption in classrooms and unique harm to schools.”
“This alleged conduct hooked millions of teenagers onto vaping with an addictive product that is easily concealed in schools, and foreseeably caused a multitude of problems for the school districts,” Judge Orrick said.
The design and deceptive marketing claims undergirded the civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act claims in the suits, which say Juul and Altria executives conspired for the common purpose of “maintaining and expanding the number of nicotine-addicted e-cigarette users” to grow Juul’s “massive, and ill-gotten, share of the e-cigarette market.”
Altria has argued it can’t be held liable for Juul’s actions before the 2018 deal, disputing the plaintiffs’ claims that it worked with Juul behind the scenes beforehand and laid the groundwork for the crisis with its lobbying efforts. Juul, meanwhile, has argued that there is nothing illegal about selling flavored products, blasting the suits as “expansive and unfounded.”
Representatives of the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
September 21, 2020 - Juul Labs and minority shareholder Altria Group asked a California federal judge on Monday to toss Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and public nuisance claims made against the e-cigarette manufacturer in an ongoing federal multidistrict litigation that claims the companies and their stakeholders collaborated to defraud the public and created a youth vaping epidemic.
U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick presided over the hearing in the San Francisco Federal Courthouse.
Defense attorneys representing Juul Labs and Altria Group (parent company of Philip Morris USA) said that the RICO allegations made against their clients were baseless, asking for those charges to be immediately dismissed.
According to the defendants, these charges are preempted and frustrated FDA policy objectives.
Plaintiffs – made up mostly by a consolidation of school districts – argue, however, that by giving the FDA authority over tobacco products in the Tobacco Control Act, Congress was aware of the possibility for private lawsuits under state law, due to the previous fraud of Big Tobacco that was exposed in numerous state and private lawsuits brought over time.
The public nuisance claims argue that the companies defrauded the public by presenting Juul products as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, with no scientific evidence to back that claim.
RICO claims charge that the companies presented this same message to a youth demographic and collaborated to advertise to an underage market using marketing tactics such as featuring young models in advertisements, pay-for-promotion schemes with pop culture figures, bright and colorful ads, exaggerated presence on social media platforms popular in youth culture, and flavored products that appeal to a youth market – tactics not unlike those claimed against Altria (Philip Morris) in previous litigations which found the company had targeted young people in cigarette ads.
“Sellling a flavored product is not fraud”, said Peter A. Farrell of Kirkland Eliis LLP representing the defendants. The defense went on to argue that the companies in question never spent money on the products at issue and that the plaintiffs did not adequately plead that any RICO enterprise existed.
The defense went on to categorize their clients’ actions as “normal business dealings”.
When pressed to describe how the companies participated in a RICO enterprise, the plaintiffs said that the damage found on schoolgrounds nationwide can be directly tied to the defendants’ “sham” youth prevention campaign and their campaigns to market to America’s youth. According to testimony, the plaintiffs went on to tell the judge that Juul representatives purgered themselves when they told Congress that they had no interest in targeting the youth market. “Kids were their target market.” Stated Sabita J. Soneji, representing the plaintiffs.
Soneji went on to explain that Altria Group – the largest distributor of tobacco in the world - saw in Juul a “pipeline to replacement smokers”, which prompted them to become a minority investor in Juul in an effort to once again expand the nicotine-addiction demographic range.
The companies then collaborated to mislead the public about the safety of their product and target the youth demographic to create a new generation of smokers.
August 11, 2020 - Lawmakers are pressing the Food and Drug Administration to take electronic cigarettes off the market to help mitigate the COVID-19 crisis. They claim that using vape devices significantly increases a person’s risk of acquiring the pervasive coronavirus.
Illinois representative Raja Krishnamoorthi cited that vape users are five times more likely to get coronavirus, and those who vape and smoke are seven times more likely. These stats come from a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, which Krishnamoorthi included in a letter to the FDA.
One of the main concerns being addressed by lawmakers is the limited availability of coronavirus tests. Those who vape and smoke are reportedly nine times more likely to seek a COVID-19 test than others. Some people are stuck waiting weeks for an available test, so putting a halt on vaping would help free up the system, according to the Illinois representative.
Furthermore, the FDA's regulation of vaping requires vape companies to submit an application that satisfies certain public health criteria. But shortages of laboratory resources as well as travel restrictions have ultimately extended the vaping application deadline from May 12 to September 9 of 2020.
COVID-19 has largely hurt vape companies whose factories have have had to shut down as pressure against vape manufacturers persists.
July 7, 2020: Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser had filed a lawsuit against Juul Inc, claiming the vape company marketing its products to children and downplayed their health risks. Furthermore, Weiser is accusing Juul of falsely suggesting its vaping products are a healthy smoking alternative and can help people quit using cigarettes.
The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, states that the company violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.
“Addiction to e-cigarettes poses major health risks to Colorado youth,” Weiser said in a written statement. “Juul must be held accountable for its reckless, deceptive and unconscionable marketing.”
The claim argues that Juul developed its products, which resemble a USB flash drive, to make them more attractive and easily accessible to youth and more difficult for parents and teachers to identify.
Juul has responded by saying it has worked to combat teen use and that its vaping devices are not meant to be cessation products but are rather just an additional way to consumer nicotine.
Juul Inc is partly owned by Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes. Altria’s stock has tanked in part because of litigation against Juul.
Lastly, the lawsuit aims to recover financial compensation for damage caused to Colorado and its citizens. Also, it calls for a halt to the company’s unlawful and deceptive trade practices.
June 30, 2020: Consumers in the federal multidistrict litigation over vaping say that federal law does not broadly bar their claims that Juul Labs Inc. and Altria Group Inc. hid the dangers of e-cigarettes, saying that was not what Congress intended.
Furthermore, they said that when Congress gave the US Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products, it was aware of the potential for private litigation under state law. Especially due to the long-time fraud of the tobacco industry that was exposed in courtrooms through suits brought by private and state plaintiffs.
“Cognizant of that history, Congress chose not to remain silent and leave it to the courts to identify and police the limits of traditional state authority in the areas newly subject to federal regulation,” that consumers said. “Instead, Congress wrote what may be the most detailed and carefully crafted preemption provision in the U.S. Code, with a thumb firmly on the scale against preemption.”
Consumers in the MDL claim Juul and Altria deceptively pushed e-cigarettes as a way to help people stop smoking. However, the devices were truly intended as a new delivery vehicle for nicotine addiction that raked in profits for the companies.
Last week, Juul and Altria asked the court to throw out claims from seven government entities, saying they have failed to link their public nuisance claims to anything the companies have done.
A representative for Altria declined to comment. Representatives for the other parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
June 24, 2020 - Juul Labs Inc and Altria Group Inc are asking the California federal court to throw out claims from seven government entities, saying they have failed to link their public nuisance claims to anything the companies have done.
In a pair of motions, Juul and Altria took aim at claims from the Tucson Unified School District; the School Board of Broward County, Florida; Central Bucks School District; the School Board of Escambia County, Florida; Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District; the County of Santa Cruz; and Three Village Central School District, each of which filed a complaint against the companies in May.
In their complaints, the institutions allege they had to spend resources to combat the consequences of nicotine addiction that they say Juul and Altria pushed by hiding the risks of addiction and by marketing the products to youths.
In its motion, Juul called the entities’ claims “expansive and unfounded,” arguing that courts in the five states the plaintiffs are based in have rejected attempts to use public nuisance law in cases of defective products or deceptive marketing. Additionally, Juul told the court it owes the entities no duty of care, as they never bought Juul’s products, and they cannot now claim damages as a third party to consumer transactions.
A Juul spokesperson said that the company will respond to the complaints’ allegations through its legal channels, adding it intends to work with state officials to deter underage use. The e-cigarette manufacturer said it has already stopped the sale of flavored products, ended TV, print, and digital advertising, and is preparing a premarket tobacco product application for the USDA.
Representatives for Altria and the government plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.
June 5, 2020: Former Juul director of program management Marcie Hamilton filed a lawsuit against Juul, claiming that the company is using illegal non-disclosure agreements to prevent any attempts of whistleblowing.
“Armed with these illegal NDAs and confidentiality requirements and in reliance on their terrorizing effect, powerful employers, often with the help of prominent law firms, threaten employees with termination, financial ruin and more if they dare disclose corporate wrongdoing or engage in other relevant protected conduct,” Hamilton says.
The disgruntled former Juul employee is suing over multiple alleged violations of California’s labor code and unjust enrichment. Her lawsuit seeks an order barring Juul from enforcing the controversial confidentiality policies. Hamilton claims these policies are detrimental to her job-seeking abilities. She also says these policies affect more than 3,000 people.
Altria Group, the owner of the company produces Marlboro brand cigarettes, purchased a $12.8 billion stake in Juul in 2018. Juul is involved in several other ongoing lawsuits. Including multiple antitrust suits over the Altria sale, as well as allegations of improper marketing aimed at attracting underage consumers.
Hamilton is also seeking undetermined penalties plus attorney fees and expenses.
Juul did not respond to requests for comment.
April 21, 2020: ATLANTA, Ga – TorHoerman Law, and Turnbull Law Firm P.C. have filed the first Juul lawsuit in the state of Georgia, alleging that the popular e-cigarette caused a former athlete to develop permanent lung damage.
The lawsuit further alleges that Juul Labs, which manufacturers Juul, negligently formulated their products with harmful chemicals that cause lung damage, failed to warn consumers of these dangers, and misconceived the e-cigarette’s safety by labeling it a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. According to the lawsuit, Juul knew, or should have known, about these dangerous chemicals, but chose to include them in their product in an effort to attract young people and new users to electronic cigarettes.
Jake Plattenberger, Partner at TorHoerman Law, and Alan Holcomb, Partner at Turnbull Law Firm P.C. represent their client, a previously healthy and active young adult. The client, who was a former athlete, began using Juul products in 2015, subsequently suffering from severe and permanent lung injuries, pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
Like many teens and young adults, the client was initially influenced by Juul's appeal as a “safer alternative”. “Since entering the market, Juul Labs has dominated the e-cigarette industry and now controls the vast majority of the market,” Said Plattenberger. “Our hope is to set a precedent for the victims of Juul Lab’s dangerous products and misleading marketing campaigns.”
February 13, 2020 - New details of JUUL’s unlawful marketing practices have emerged through a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of Massachusetts. The lawsuit accuses JUUL of paying NickJr.com and CartoonNetwork.com to stream advertisements for their vaping product. Not only are these websites obviously intended a young audience, but the advertisements themselves featured youthful and “cool" models that would likely appeal to teenagers. The lawsuit also accuses JUUL of emailing young teens about how they can purchase nicotine products as an underage person.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that JUUL has tried to recruit social media celebrities who have a young following to advertise their product. One of the celebrities mentioned is pop-star Miley Cyrus.
Since its 2015 conception, JUUL has been the fastest growing vape company in the US (sales increased by more than 780% between 2017 and 2018). However, recent lawsuits and bans on vaping have greatly hurt JUUL as a whole.
The fight against JUUL revolves around the company’s role in the youth vaping “epidemic,” as the FDA has labeled it. More kids are vaping now than ever, and critics largely blame the device’s accessibility, concealability, the high levels of nicotine found in JUULpods, and the marketing campaign aimed at teens. This JUUL lawsuit is one of many state Juul lawsuits that have been filed against the e-cigarette manufacturer in recent months.
January 10, 2020 - San Diego Unified School District is yet another major public education institution to file a Juul lawsuit in recent months. Citing the growing “youth vaping epidemic” in San Diego public schools, the district filed suit earlier this week claiming that Juul deliberately marketed vaping products to its students.
The complaint, filed in the San Diego Superior Court, alleges that Juul has created a disruption in the learning environment, causing an increase in student absences due to vaping-related illnesses. The complaint also alleges that San Diego public schools have had to reallocate education and learning funds to fund educational campaigns, prevention, and treatment.
San Diego Unified School District is demanding monetary compensation for the costs offset from the budget to fund anti-vaping campaigns, student prevention, and treatment programs.
"Our district is in the business of educating students in a healthy and safe environment," San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said. "This lawsuit supports district goals by holding Juul accountable for its harmful marketing practices and unsafe products."
Juul said in a statement that they are working with regulators, public health officials and local lawmakers to prevent continued underage vaping.
The district says that while new preventative regulations have been enacted, they fall short of meeting the standards set for other smoking devices. While cigarette companies face advertising restrictions such as the inability to advertise on billboards, sponsor events, give out free samples, and advertise on certain media platforms, Juul and other vaping devices are not limited by these restrictions.
According to the complaint, Big Tobacco’s advertising options "were prohibited because of their effectiveness at appealing to youth." However, Juul uses these same methods regularly. The school district believes that Juul has successfully used these methods to target young people.
December 15, 2019 - Another state has come forward and sued Juul Labs, Inc. for the company’s deceptive marketing to teens. Law 360 reports that Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul sued the popular e-cigarette company in state court on Thursday, December 12, alleging that Juul’s advertising targeted minors while misleading consumers about the amounts of nicotine in its products. The lawsuit marks the third state attorney general-led case against Juul.
Deceptive Marketing and Enticing Flavors
Raoul’s lawsuit said that Juul intentionally appealed to underage consumers through its sleek design that resembles a flash drive. He said that the e-cigarette design makes it easy to conceal and use discreetly. Raoul’s suit also noted that the company offered vaporizer pods in fruity and sweet flavors such as mango, crème brûlée, menthol, and mint that masked the amount of nicotine in the solutions.
The Illinois Juul lawsuit said the company led an aggressive marketing campaign with teenagers as a primary target audience. Raoul said Juul’s advertisements flooded social media with images of both celebrities and media personalities using Juul’s e-cigarette devices. Raoul added that while Juul claims its product is a smoking cessation device, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for that use.
“This lawsuit is part of a comprehensive approach to addressing a public health epidemic, particularly one impacting young people,” Raoul said. “Juul has intentionally targeted minors and, after being criticized for its intentionally youthful marketing, marketed its product as a smoking cessation device without having FDA approval to do so.”
Illinois Teen Vaping Epidemic Matches Nationwide Trends
The Illinois Attorney General’s office cites that 27 percent of Illinois 12th graders reported using an electronic cigarette in the last 30 days of 2019. This percentage is almost double the state’s rate of reported adult combustible cigarette smokers. The lawsuit cited the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey that revealed a sharp increase in youth nicotine use. NYTS data revealed that from 2017 to 2018, daily e-cigarette use among high school students increased from 11.7 percent to 20.8 percent. The survey states that 3.05 million American high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2018.
States Sue Juul Labs
The attorneys general in New York and California sued Juul in November, with both lawsuits targeting the company’s strategies for youth outreach. In Washington state, two counties and one school district filed class-action lawsuits against Juul Labs and Altria Group, a major shareholder in the company. North Carolina sued Juul in May citing unfair and deceptive practices that put the state’s teenagers at risk of nicotine addiction.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said that the state’s lawsuit followed an investigation by the attorney general’s office.
“My investigation showed two things,” Stein said. “One, it targeted young people. And two, it misleads the public about the potency of nicotine in its products,” he said. “You only have to walk through any high school parking lot in North Carolina to see how pervasive Juul is among young people in our state.”
Illinois Juul Lawsuit Condemns Late Changes
In the Illinois state lawsuit, Raoul said that Juul only began targeting adult users once the company faced criticism for its marketing tactics targeting teens. The attorney general is asking for a $50,000 civil penalty for each “deceptive or unfair act or practice” and an additional $50,000 for “each act or practice with the intent to defraud.”
Juul launched its “Make the Switch” campaign in 2018. The campaign features ex-smokers who say they used Juul to quit smoking cigarettes. In a statement, Juul Labs said the company’s customer base is “the world’s 1 billion adult smokers” and that they do not intend to attract teenage users. Company spokesman Austin Finan said they will work cooperatively with officials and regulators to combat underage use.
The case is the People of the State of Illinois v. Juul Labs Inc., case number 2019CH14302, in the circuit of Cook County. The state of Illinois is represented by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Assistant Attorneys General Susan Ellis, Greg Grzeskiewicz, Andrea Law, Monique Anawis, Adrien Fernandez, and Jacob Gilbert.
December 5, 2019 - The legal fight against teen e-cigarette use continues as school districts nationwide are filing lawsuits against Juul Labs, Inc. and other vape companies. The Guardian reports that over a dozen US school districts have filed lawsuits against vape companies amidst the ongoing teen vape epidemic. The legal challenges come from across the country with school districts in New York, Missouri, Kansas, Arizona, and California suing to hold the industry accountable.
The districts’ suits seek to recoup financial losses from managing student e-cigarette use at school. The lawsuits cite Juul’s gross negligence in deceptive marketing targeting minors. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association’s recent study, 27.5 percent of American high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students say they have used e-cigarettes in the past month.
Teen Vaping Drains District Budgets and Resources
Many districts say the vaping epidemic requires schools to expend significant resources of their limited budgets to counter teen e-cigarette use. Augustin Gonzalez, principal at Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, said that monitoring student vaping has cut “countless hours” from instructional time. Districts have had to take extreme measures to combat students’ vape use that affect schools’ academic and financial success.
“I studied to be a teacher, not a private investigator to target vaping products,” he said. “The loss of instructional time has had a huge impact on our schools.”
Districts across the country have had to take extreme measures to combat students’. District officials say they needed to hire full-time staff members to watch for students vaping in school hallways and bathrooms. Schools have been forced to counter the epidemic by removing bathroom doors, banning USB flash drives, and finding ways to discipline students that won’t lead to them vaping more often. Some have even installed vaping detection systems that cost up to $40,000.
Deceptive Marketing Spurred Vaping Epidemic
The majority of school districts that filed Juul lawsuits mention the company’s allegedly deceptive advertising and teen targeting while profiting from the vaping epidemic. One district claims the company intentionally targeted students while using marketing language that told adolescents its products were “totally safe.” The district’s suit accuses Juul of intentionally using influencers in its campaigns that would appeal to young people.
Districts’ officials say the company is profiting while the nation’s youth are at risk. Juul’s revenues grew by 700 percent in 2017 to $200 million. A year later, they hit the $1 billion mark and forecast revenue above $3 billion in 2019. One school district accused Juul of racketeering, creating an epidemic and public nuisance, and gross negligence. Another cited students’ inability to “fully realize the dangerous and addictive nature of Juul products” and that the company recklessly disregarded the risks of its products.
Vaping and Teen Health Problems
The district lawsuits coincide with increased scrutiny and regulation aimed at Juul and other vaping companies. Across the US, reports of vaping-related illnesses have increased, affecting teenagers and young persons in particular. Doctors and patients have reported an outbreak of lung diseases tied to e-cigarette use with more than 2,000 cases of vaping-related lung injury. It is still unclear what percentage of cases are tied to nicotine vape products versus THC vape products, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning cautioning Americans against vaping until more is known.
Medical professionals and educators have raised concerns about a number of other health and behavioral issues sprung by the vaping epidemic. Yogi Hale Hendlin, a research associate at the Environmental Health Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco noted the adverse effects nicotine can have on the developing brain.
“Nicotine use in the formative years of brain development can rewire brains to have less focused attention or ability to concentrate on one thing for a sustained amount of time,” he said. “It also inhibits impulse control, which presents a big problem for society at large in the long term.”
Legislative, Social Pressure Mounts
While school districts file Juul lawsuits, pressure against the company and the industry has built up nationwide from all sides. The states of New York and California are suing Juul, and the company has been sued by individual families affected by addiction. Opposition reached the federal level when the Trump administration considered plans for a national ban on certain e-cigarette flavors; the administration dropped the plans.
Jeremiah Mock, a researcher at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF, said that legislation at the national level is falling behind the scale of the epidemic.
“The use of Juul has undeniably changed school culture and had a profound effect on student experience,” he said. “In the absence of clear and effective FDA regulation, local jurisdictions have to do whatever they can.”
Amidst pressure, Juul has worked to overhaul its image. The company stopped sales of certain flavored vape pods, including the popular mint flavor, while halting all US advertising. The company has repeatedly denied that it marketed it to teens.
States Sue and Investigate Juul Over Marketing/Injury Claims
November 22, 2019 - As of November 2019, the states of New York, California, and North Carolina have sued Juul Labs Inc. The lawsuits allege that Juul, the United States’ most popular e-cigarette manufacturer, directly targeted young people through marketing and sales efforts while not doing enough to verify the ages of customers. Illinois, Massachusetts, and several other states are also investigating the company that is largely held responsible for the U.S. vaping epidemic.
North Carolina Juul Lawsuit
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein set precedence for action against Juul when he filed a lawsuit asking the court to limit what flavors the company could sell. The lawsuit, filed on May 15, was the first state lawsuit against the e-cigarette company. Stein questioned why people ages 15 to 17 are more likely to use Juul than the company’s state targeted demographic. The lawsuit specifically noted the company’s fruit and desert-like flavors and the USB-like design.
California Juul Lawsuit
California’s Juul lawsuit points to poor oversight by the company to vet customers. The lawsuit, filed November 18 by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, alleges that the Juul age verification system lets underage customers easily purchase nicotine products from the company’s online store. The state cited sales data and internal emails from the company, alleging that the company permitted thousands of deliveries to phony names and addresses. Becerra noted 17 shipments to an individual who listed “Beer Can” as a name.
New York Juul Lawsuit
New York became the third state to sue Juul Labs when Attorney General Letitia James announced the lawsuit on November 19. The lawsuit alleges that Juul contributed to the vaping epidemic through its misleading social media tactics. It also alleges that Juul advertised e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. The lawsuit requires Juul to stop targeting minors and to pay fines for the alleged offenses. James, the state’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer, said that Juul “basically took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook.”
Concern Amidst Vaping Epidemic
Illinois, Massachusetts, and several other states are also investigating Juul on account of rising rates of e-cigarette use among young persons in the United States. In the most recent government survey, one in four high school students reported using e-cigarettes within the last month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18. Within the past six years, there has been a 900 percent increase in high school students reporting using e-cigarettes and a 400 percent increase among middle school students.
Juul has worked to overhaul its image, putting efforts into branding itself as a product used to help adults stop smoking traditional cigarettes. The company stopped selling most of its e-cigarette flavors following scrutiny that they were aimed at pulling in young users. It has also shut down social media accounts and ended advertisements that are subjects of the lawsuit. The FDA has not approved Juul or any other e-cigarettes as products to help smokers quit.
November 21, 2019 - The FDA told lawmakers this week that it is waiting on the White House to make the final call on when new vaping and e-cigarette regulations will be released.
Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions inquired to FDA director for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, about when the newly established e-cigarette regulations would go into effect. Zeller referred them to the White House
The Trump administration promised in September to initiate a ban on all e-cigarette flavors after a wave of vaping-related injuries began to plague the nation. There remains some equivocality in whether this executive declaration to ban flavored vaping was a serious statement a hollow promise to relieve mounting political pressures.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said at the committee hearing that she worries that the administration is weakening its initial policy plan and may exclude menthol from the e-cigarette flavor ban.“To fully protect kids, does this administration’s ban of unauthorized flavors need to include menthol and mint flavors?” Murray asked the committee.
According to the CDC, menthol and mint flavor use amongst teens has risen parallel to the decrease in the availability of other fruity flavors.
Zeller told the Committee that he can assure its members that the process of establishing regulations is still deliberative. However, he cannot give a deliberative timeline for the ban. “I really would refer you and the committee to the White House to ask specific questions about where we are.”
The proposed regulations would ban all nontobacco e-cigarette flavors. Manufacturers wanting to sell e-cigarette flavors would have to submit and be approved for premarket authorizations before their flavored products could be sold.
November 8, 2019 - On Thursday, Juul announced that it would discontinue all sales of its mint-flavored pods, which are popular amongst the youth demographic.
This comes only a few weeks after Juul halted sales of all fruity flavors, facing accusations that their fruity pods were designed to entice underage smokers.
Juul will stop accepting retail orders of mint pods effective immediately. They will also discontinue all online mint pod sales.
A study of youth vaping released earlier this week found that a majority of teen e-cigarette smokers used fruit flavors, menthol, mint, and candy flavors.
“These results are unacceptable and that is why we must reset the vapor category in the U.S. and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, attorneys general, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use,” Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said in a statement.
Also, on Thursday, Juul was issued a demand to open up the books for federal lawmakers who plan to review internal-Juul reports and documents to investigate whether there is any weight to the claim that Juul sold 1 million contaminated pods to consumers; a claim charged against Juul earlier this week by former company executive Siddharth Breja. Breja has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company, claiming that Juul knowingly sold 1 million contaminated pods to retailers and through their online store. According to the lawsuit, when Breja brought it up to other executives on multiple occasions, he was ignored and eventually terminated for making said claims.
The formal investigation will be conducted by The House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. The committee will also be looking into Juul’s testing policies and product quality standards.
“These allegations raise concerns due to the current outbreak of e-cigarette-related lung illness for which the cause remains unknown by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and sub-committee member said in a statement. “Our country is in the midst of a youth e-cigarette use epidemic, meaning that any contaminated pods would disproportionately put children at risk.”
November 13, 2019 - Juul Labs announced it will cut 650 jobs, representing 16 percent of the company's 4,051 employees, and $1 billion in costs in 2020. The San-Francisco based electronic cigarette company has come under increased scrutiny for its marketing and ties to vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Juul plans to cut all marketing spending in a shift to overhaul the company’s image.
Juul’s decision to downsize contrasts rates of growth both in the company and the e-cigarette industry as a whole. Prior to the announced decision, the fast-growing company had been bringing on roughly 300 employees a month. Since its inception in 2015, Juul has come to dominate the e-cigarette industry, holding close to 40 percent of the market.
The e-cigarette industry itself is growing extremely fast. According to a marketing report by BIS research, the market is expected to be worth $86.43 billion by 2025, up from $11.43 billion in 2016. The popularity of e-cigarettes took hold as consumers were swayed by claims of “healthier alternatives” to smoking. So why is Juul cutting jobs and spending?
Juul officially announced in September that the company will suspend all product advertising in the United States. The company seeks to position itself as a responsible company to change its image from one that is largely to blame for a nationwide teenage vaping epidemic. Juul said its remaining marketing team will focus advertising efforts directly to current smokers.
This summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially declared a teen vaping “epidemic.” Federal survey data showed that roughly 21 percent of high school students vaped within the last year, a sharp contrast to decades of declining youth nicotine use. Many critics and advocates say Juul’s advertisements are heavily responsible for the epidemic.
Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, blamed Juul for the surge in teen vaping. Critics point to Juul’s original advertising campaigns that used younger-looking models and bright colors. The FDA issued warnings to the company in September expressing concern over its marketing practices allegedly targeting students.
Amidst the scrutiny, Juul has worked to combat underage use. The company previously shut down its social media accounts and suspended its campaigns that officials said, targeted underage users. Juul also announced it would stop selling mint-flavored pods, the most popular flavor among high school students while removing other sweet flavors from retailers’ shelves.
Juul’s marketing overhaul coincides with local and federal regulatory push back. This summer, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to ban all sales of nicotine e-cigarette products. As of October, seven states have issued similar bans citing concerns over dangers associated with vaping. In September, the Trump administration announced it was preparing a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and companies now must submit applications for their products to stay on the market. The bans come as concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes mount nationwide.
November 10, 2019 - Samples of 29 vaping lung injury patients in 10 states all contained one similar chemical, vitamin E acetate, according to the CDC researchers. This revelation is a major breakthrough for the CDC, the agency tasked with finding the cause of the outbreak of vaping lung injuries that have plagued the country over the past few months.
39 vaping lung injury patients have died so far, while another 2,051 have are being investigated, according to the CDC.
According to the CDC, “Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, previous research suggests when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.”
Vitamin E acetate is a thick, oily substance that imitates the appearance of vaping liquids found in both THC and nicotine vaping products. The CDC believes that vitamin E acetate is used as a thickening additive to e-cigarettes. Because of its almost identical appearance to THC oil, it is also used as a sort of cutting agent in illicit THC vaping products.
The CDC was prompted to explore vitamin E acetate as being at least one of the proponents causing the vaping lung outbreak after numerous state agencies identified vitamin E acetate as the common substance found in products that had been linked to vaping lung injuries.
CDC researchers conducted a study of fluid taken from the lungs of 29 vaping lung injury patients, finding vitamin E acetate in all 29 samples. 82 percent of patients’ fluid contained THC while 62 percent of the samples contained nicotine, indicating that a majority of patients were vaping THC products, and most were also using nicotine as well.
Researchers looked for other common chemicals, mineral oils and plant materials found in the 29 patient samples but found nothing of concern.
The CDC now labels vitamin E acetate as a “chemical of concern” The agency still plans to research other possible hazardous materials that may also be causing vaping lung.
Juul Ignored Early Evidence It Was Causing Addiction in Teens, According to Report
November 5, 2019 - A Reuters investigation has uncovered that throughout the developmental stages of Juul, employees and developers expressed concern over Juul’s nicotine potency and addictiveness. Juul failed to heed these concerns.
Former employees at Juul claim that Juul’s central goal was to captivate users by creating an e-cigarette that provided high levels of nicotine without the harsh taste that other e-cigarettes delivered. According to these employees, Juul’s development team found that most e-cigarettes failed because they did not provide a high enough concentration of nicotine and/or the vapors left a harsh taste in the user’s mouth. To combat these issues, Juul developers groomed through old tobacco-company research and patents and found a solution by adding organic acids to nicotine, which allows for higher doses of nicotine with a smooth taste.
According to employees, Juul developers and employees toyed with different combinations of organic acids and nicotine, testing the product on themselves and on strangers in public, until they found the perfect combination of ingredients.
The final formula delivered such a high dose of nicotine per puff without the negative effects of high dose nicotine (harsh taste, shakiness, and vomiting), that developers were concerned that the number of nicotine users could inhale at once with Juul could pose dangerous health risks.
In 2014, Juul founders applied for a patent for a mechanism that would alert users or disable the device entirely when the user inhaled a dose of nicotine that reached a certain threshold which made it dangerous.
Chenyue Xing, a former scientist for Juul, said that one idea was to turn off the Juul device for thirty minutes after the user had taken a certain amount of puffs. Xing said that the main issue at hand was that, unlike combustible cigarettes, a Juul never burns out. This makes it harder for the user to determine how much nicotine they have inhaled and when is a good time to take a break. “You hope that they get what they want, and they stop. We didn’t want to introduce a new product with a stronger addictive power.”
But although Juul recognized this potential issue, they never implemented such a restrictive mechanism to limit nicotine intake.
Even early on, this unrestricted level of nicotine was cause for concern for some Juul employees who felt that the ease at which users could consume nicotine with Juul would result in addiction.
Other employees became concerned with Juul’s appeal to youth. According to one ex-company manager, after Juul’s market release in 2015, company reps received a huge influx of calls from teens asking where they could buy more Juuls and Juul pods.
The high frequency of calls from inquiring teens sparked an internal debate at Juul. Co-founder James Monsees was one of the executives who argued to take immediate action to limit youth sales. Other executives and investors, such as healthcare entrepreneur Hoyoung Huh, argued that Juul could not be faulted for Juul causing youth nicotine addiction because the company never directly advertised to teens.
“Clearly, people internally had an issue with it,” the manager told Reuters. “But a lot of people had no problem with 500 percent year-over-year growth.”
Juul has since come under heavy scrutiny from lawsuits and lawmakers who say that Juul directly targeted to youth – a claim that directly challenges Huh’s own claim.
Juul eventually made efforts to curtail youth sales in April 2018, two days after the FDA announced that it would be taking action to stop underage sales of Juul.
Reuters investigators also talked to two prominent tobacco researchers who said that they warned Juul executives and developers about the potential for youth Juul abuse.
Neal Benowitz, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, was one of the tobacco researchers. Benowitz said that he warned Juul’s director of scientific affairs, Gal Cohen, that rampant teen use could wreak havoc on Juul.
“Look, the one thing you have to do is make sure that this doesn’t get into the hands of young people,” Benowitz recalled telling Cohen.” If it spreads among kids, this product could be dead.”
October 30, 2019 - A new lawsuit claims that the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul knowingly sold 1 million contaminated Juul pods, according to a statement made by the plaintiff, Juul’s former senior vice president.
Former Juul senior VP Siddharth Breja says that his termination in March was the direct result of him raising concerns about contaminated Juul pods that the company allegedly sold. Breja claims that 1 million Juul pods sold to customers and retailers were contaminated, and Juul was fully aware of the tainted pods.
In his complaint, Breja specifically states that he raised concerns with senior management about Juul selling expired products. Breja also claims to have raised the issue with Juul’s mint refill kits, which he alleges were contaminated.
Breja says that the company execs were aware and unconcerned with his concerns.
According to the lawsuit, Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns, who has since been replaced, responded to Breja’s concerns stating, “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fo's, who the f*** is going to notice the quality of our pods?"
In response to Breja’s lawsuit, Juul said, "Mr. Breja's claims are baseless. He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role. The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications. The company will vigorously defend this lawsuit."
October 29, 2019 - As legal and legislative pressure mounts, a number of top executives from Juul are parting ways the e-cigarette company. Chief Administrative Officer Ashley Gould and Chief Financial Officer Tim Danaher have both recently left, leaving a void for newly named CEO K.C. Crosthwaite to fill.
Crosthwaite has named Guy Cartwright to take the place of Danaher as Juul’s CFO. Cartwright came into the company in July as the transformation and operations officer.
Juul has not announced what the company plans to do with the CAO position previously held by Gould.
Chief Marketing Officer, Craig Brommers, and senior vice president of advanced technologies, David Foster, have both also recently left Juul. Both were more recent additions to the executive staff.
Juul announced that it plans to cut the CMO position, while it remains unclear what the company plans to do with Foster’s senior vice president of advanced technologies position.
These management moves were announced via a company-wide email.
Juul announced earlier this month that it plans to lay off 500 employees, or 10-15% of staff, before the end of the year.
Juul Names CFO as Company Continues to Replace Top Execs
October 29, 2019- As legal and legislative pressure mounts, a number of top executives from Juul are parting ways the e-cigarette company. Chief Administrative Officer Ashley Gould and Chief Financial Officer Tim Danaher have both recently left, leaving a void for newly named CEO K.C. Crosthwaite to fill.
Juul Suspends All Sales of Flavored Pods
October 18, 2019 - Juul announced on Thursday that it would suspend all of its flavored pod sales, barring menthol and tobacco. This announcement comes as Juul continues to take heavy fire from mounting lawsuits paralleled with a decline in public trust of the company’s product safety claims.
Juul has faced scrutiny for its marketing tactics, with some lawmakers arguing that the e-cigarette behemoth purposely targeted the youth market in order to create a new generation of nicotine users.
Juul stated that their announcement to suspend the sale of flavors is an effort to regain public confidence.
“We must reset the vapor category by earning the trust of society and working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers," Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said in a statement.
This is one of the first major decisions for Crosthwaite during his short tenure as Juul CEO. Crosthwaite, the former Chief Growth Officer at Altria and CEO/president of Philip Morris, took over the role of CEO from Juul co-founder Kevin Burns following the September announcement that Juul would be suspending all advertising and lobbying efforts.
The flavored pods' sales that will be suspended include mango, crème, fruit, and cucumber. Menthol and tobacco will still be available.
September 25, 2019 - Amid nationwide allegations that Juul has created an “epidemic” of youth vaping, the e-cigarette company announced today that it plans to cease US advertising and lobbying efforts, while subsequently replacing CEO and co-founder Kevin Burns.
K.C. Crosthwaite will take the place of Burns, effective immediately. Crosthwaite was previously the Chief Growth Officer at Altria Group Inc. - formally Philip Morris - which holds a 35% ownership in Juul.
At Altria, Crosthwaite helped to facilitate an initiative to move away from traditional cigarettes and expand into alternative nicotine products.
Juul has also announced that the company’s marketing branch will suspend all TV, print, and digital advertisements, as well as all lobbying efforts; this is likely a response to inquiries from federal agencies into Juul’s marketing tactics, which some have claimed to have been targeted towards youth.
September 13, 2019 - Two confirmed cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarettes have been reported in Missouri in the past two weeks, with seven more possible e-cigarette injuries currently being investigated by Missouri Health Department officials.
Both injured individuals are being treated at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, so it is likely that these individuals are minors.
No additional information about the two individuals or their injuries is being made public at this time.
“If we receive more reports in the future that allow us to provide aggregate data on the location, ages and illness severity in these patients, we will do so,” Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said in an email. “Because there are currently just nine cases under investigation, we are unable to delineate these cases any further due to the fact that it could cause identification of those patients.”
Dr. Randall Williams, Department of Health and Senior Services director encouraged Missourians who are concerned with these health risks to refrain from using e-cigarette products.
September 9, 2019 - The FDA issued a letter warning Juul on Monday that the company may face sanctions for illegally advertising Juul as a safer alternative to cigarettes. In the letter, the FDA warned that it will fine the company or even seize Juul’s products if the e-cigarette manufacturer does not revoke its unsubstantiated claim that Juul is a safer alternative to cigarettes.
The letter was sent to Juul CEO, Kevin Burns.
The warning letter was prompted by FDA findings after reviewing testimony presented in Congressional hearings on Juul in July. From the testimony, the FDA determined that, by selling or distributing Juul products as modified risk tobacco products without an FDA order in effect that permits such sale or distribution, the company had committed illegal marketing practices.
Federal law states that companies are not allowed to market tobacco or nicotine products as safer than cigarettes without presenting evidence to the FDA. After reviewing the evidence, the claims must be approved by the FDA. The FDA has never validated claims that Juul is a safer alternative to cigarettes.
“Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does, in fact, pose less risk or is less harmful,” explained Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless.
The letter addressed numerous instances where Juul violated these federal laws, citing one particular instance in which a Juul representative told students at a school presentation that Juul “was much safer than cigarettes,” and “totally safe”.
The FDA also cited a statement written by Burns that appeared on the company’s website, which stated that Juul is designed to “heat nicotine liquid and deliver smokers the satisfaction that they want without the combustion and hard associated with it.”
The FDA sent an additional letter, inquiring about Juul’s marketing practices. The agency requested any scientific evidence or data that shows whether certain phrasing used in Juul advertisements gives consumers the idea that Juul is less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
Juul has recently begun a new advertising campaign which tells smokers to “make the switch” from cigarettes to Juul and features personal stories of adult smokers who have switched over to Juul. The FDA is concerned that these advertisements deceive smokers into believing that by making the switch, they are choosing a safer option.
Juul was asked to turn all materials presented in the July congressional hearings into the FDA. The FDA is now investigating whether Juul failed to comply, and withheld some materials from the agency.
Federal health officials and the FDA both have expressed growing concerns for Juul’s advertising practices, which seem to make Juul appear as less harmful than cigarettes.
Juul has undergone major rebranding in wake of numerous investigations into the company’s marketing tactics which revealed that Juul was marketing to youth.
The FDA warning letter is a dark mark on Juul’s rebranding efforts and a reminder that there is validated evidence that Juul is less dangerous than cigarettes.
Aug 21, 2019 - TorHoerman Law this week filed the first Illinois Juul lawsuit on behalf of a young adult who became addicted to Juul and suffered life-threatening injuries as a result. The Illinois Juul lawsuit is filed against the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs along with Phillip Morris Inc., which holds minority ownership in Juul. As similar cases continue to be brought to our attention, we expect similar filings to follow. For more information about this lawsuit, read our Illinois Juul Lawsuit blog.
August 14, 2019 - 22 people have been hospitalized over the last few weeks with vaping-linked breathing problems, bringing to light just how dangerous vaping can be.
Of those 22 young people, four were reported in Minnesota, 12 in Wisconsin, primarily Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and six in Illinois. Doctors originally thought all of the cases were the result of pneumonia, but with treatment, their conditions only got worse. Most needed help breathing because they couldn’t do it on their own and were increasingly suffering from lung distress. One man was put into a medically induced coma because his lungs were filling with fluid. While all are expected to survive, the potential consequences of vaping should not be minimized or downplayed.
Given the severity of the hospitalizations, it should not come as a surprise that doctors and scientists are feverishly researching a cause. It has not yet been determined, beyond vaping dangers, what the cause of the respiratory issues are, whether that be a particular habit, oil, or brand.
“Vaping use among teens has jumped 78% over the last few years,” Michael Gutzeit, chief medical officer for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, said at a news conference. Even more alarming, there has been an almost 50% increase among middle school students.
Vapes are getting into the hands of young adults, and the consequences are proving to be disastrous. Teenagers' brains are still developing. When chemicals are introduced to their bodies, it begins to have negative effects on their development. But, the lasting effects of vaping dangers and “vape juice” are still largely unknown.
A recent study published in July 2019 looked at eight Juul e-liquid flavors, “which contain a different mixture of solvents than many other brands of e-liquid”. The study found that those e-liquids react, forming an irritating chemical acetal while sitting on the shelves of stores. There are two forms of acetal chemicals - one that is considered harmful and one that is generally safe for consumption and touch. But, due to the relatively recent development of “vape juice”, it is unknown if the chemicals in vaping are safe for human consumption, on a long term basis.
More young adults are likely to be injured, and some of those will likely be hospitalized. As vaping continues to grow in popularity, it’s important to look at two factors: what are the long term consequences of vaping and what are the toxic chemicals being used in vapes?
As research continues, we need to ask ourselves, “what is the solution to this growing health epidemic?”
August 14, 2019 - Illinois state prosecutors on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs, accusing the e-cigarette company of using targeted marketing practices to appeal to youth and intentionally get them addicted to their nicotine product. This is the first Illinois Juul lawsuit filed against the manufacturer.
The lawsuit, which is filed in Lake County, Illinois, is one of the numerous identical state lawsuits filed against Juul labs recently. Michael Nerheim, the state’s attorney in Lake County, said that his office will be working with several private Chicago law firms in the Illinois Juul Lawsuit.
"Companies like Juul Labs are preying on our teens and pre-teens by turning them into addicts," Nerheim said. "Like dope dealers on a street corner, Juul intentionally created addicted teen customers, to get them to continuously come back for life."
The Illinois Juul lawsuit claims that Juul Labs utilized their social media presence in order to influence teens to post selfies using their Juul device.
Juul Labs stated that their company’s marketing team has never attempted to influence teens in this matter. However, the company has deleted their Instagram and Facebook. They claim to be making efforts to remove all inappropriate use of their products from social media platforms.
June 15, 2019 - A Congressional House subcommittee on Thursday finished its two day hearing on JUUL e-cigarettes and the rise in youth vaping nationwide.
Multiple ongoing investigations into JUUL Labs, conducted by the FDA as well as two state attorney generals, prompted this week’s Congressional hearing. Among matters discussed were JUUL’s advertising strategies and JUUL’s “Youth Prevention” cigarette risk education program. The Youth Prevention program was initially established by JUUL as a response to the public’s growing concern about youth vaping. JUUL organized Youth Prevention events nationwide claiming its commitment to combat the growing epidemic by educating kids on the dangers of smoking. According to JUUL’s Youth Prevention website, “JUUL Labs is committed to improving the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes. We don’t’ want anyone who doesn’t smoke or already use nicotine, to use JUUL products. We certainly don’t want youth using the product. It is bad for public health, and it is bad for our mission.”
As part of this mission, JUUL held numerous in-school presentations for students. JUUL offered $10,000 to each of the schools for the right to hold discussions with students. According to a JUUL spokesperson, the company has funded six grants of unspecified amounts to schools and youth programs in order to conduct “vaping prevention activities.” At one such event at the Dwight School in New York City, a JUUL representative met with students – with no teachers or adult supervision present – and told the students that while cigarettes were dangerous, JUUL e-cigarettes were “totally safe”.
After donating $90,000 to the Richmond, California Police Activities League, JUUL held a Youth Prevention program for local middle school and high school students, specifically students who had faced suspension for using cigarettes. Juul “deployed a sophisticated program to enter schools and convey it's messaging directly to teenage children, recruited thousands of online influencers to market its vaping devices to youths and targeted children as young as 8 in summer camp,” wrote a Congressional subcommittee staffer in a memo prepared for the hearing.
Representative Katie Hill (CA) accused JUUL of financing two specific Youth Prevention programs in exchange for data about student test scores, surveys, and activity logs. At one point during the hearing, Hill directly addressed JUUL chief administrative officer Ashley Gould, asking why JUUL would need any of that information. Gould said she was not aware that that data was collected, but defended the data collection stating, “anything we undertook in the educational space was intended to keep kids away from using the product.”
In total, the subcommittee collected thousands of documents from JUUL and the agencies currently investigating JUUL, which the subcommittee used to base its findings.
These documents included internal emails between JUUL employees. In an email dating from April of last year, JUUL director of youth prevention and education program Julie Henderson discussed whether the company should attend a health fair at Hinsdale Central High School, in the suburbs of Chicago. Henderson wrote to two consultants, “Just spoke with Ashley and she shares my concern about the optics of us attending a student health fair given our new understanding of how much our efforts seem to duplicate those of Big Tobacco.”
The documents presented in the hearing also included a detailed plan to recruit celebrity “influencers” to promote the brand and products. The FDA has previously questioned whether JUUL used specific marketing tactics, including using social media “influencers” to advertise their products to an underage market. The marketing plan stated that JUUL aimed to use influencers in pop-culture with large audiences in various sectors such as music, movies, social, pop-media, etc.
Defending against claims that JUUL marketed its products to appeal to youth, JUUL co-founder James Monsees addressed the subcommittee emphasizing JUUL’s discontinued in-store sales of flavored nicotine products, affording those sales especially to their website, which requires age-verified sales. Multiple hearing presenters contended Monsees's argument, saying that JUUL’s efforts fell short. The subcommittee decided that JUUL’s claimed intentions for the Youth Prevention programs were a farce and that the company had used these programs to familiarize teenagers with its products. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL) stated that the company had also failed to actually discourage youth vaping by removing flavored products. “Although you say you took all the flavors out of the stores, you left the mint flavor,” he said. “Mint is a flavor and it took the place of other flavors,” Krishnamoorthi stated.
JUUL continues to claim that the benefits of JUUL – helping cigarette smokers to transition away from cigarettes – are a benefit to public health. The FDA’s investigation is still ongoing. JUUL has until May 2020 to prove to the FDA that JUUL products are more of a benefit than a liability to public health, otherwise, the FDA could decide to pull JUUL off the market.
May 15, 2019 – Federal judge Paul W Grimm ruled to fast-track an ongoing safety review of thousands of vaping products currently being conducted by the FDA. The decision is part of a lawsuit filed against the FDA by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with other health organizations.
The AAP and associates claim that the FDA unjustifiably delayed safety and health reviews on the impact of e-cigarettes and cigars. Judge Grimm “ruled that, in 2017, the agency acted illegally by allowing e-cigarettes to remain on the market until 2022 before companies applied for FDA authorization and by permitting products to remain on the market indefinitely during review.” said Michael Felberbaum, FDA spokesperson. Felberbaum went on to say, “The agency has and will continue to tackle the troubling epidemic of e-cigarette use among kids. This includes preventing youth access to, and appeal of, flavored tobacco products like e-cigarettes and cigars, taking action against manufacturers and retailers who illegally market or sell these products to minors, and educating youth about the dangers of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.”
Grimm allotted a 30-day period for both the Plaintiff and Defense to devise plans to move forward with the vaping products review.
May 21, 2019 - a Pennsylvania teen was diagnosed with “wet lung” (hypersensitivity pneumonitis), a respiratory inflammatory disease caused by inhaling toxins and synonymous with e-cigarette usage. The 18-year-old female, who remains unnamed, admits to using vaping products for a period of two to three weeks before her diagnosis.
She arrived at the emergency room with complaints of severe chest pain, coughing and issues breathing. She remained on breathing machines and tubes for five days. Other than minor asthmatic issues, which rarely required an inhaler, the teen has never had pulmonary issues previously.
Wet lung presented "a life-threatening health risk of e-cigarette use in an adolescent patient," the teen’s doctors concluded. The doctors advise pediatricians to discuss the risks associated with vaping with their patients. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, this is the first case reported in an adolescent as a risk of e-cigarette use.
March 10, 2019 - Last year, the FDA put into place a 4-year window that allows e-cigarette manufacturers to continue production without any scrutiny from the government watchdog agency.
The reprieve will allow E-cigarette manufacturers to continue to produce their approved products without the oversite requested by a number of advocacy groups and health organizations.
The health effects and safety concerns revolving around e-cigarettes are in contention; the industry continues to claim that e-cigarettes are a healthy alternative to traditional smoking products, while some health experts believe that e-cigarettes pose the same risks, if not more of a risk to users.
Now that e-cigarette products have been “fast-tracked” through the FDA’s pre-market process, these advocacy groups and health organizations are mounting up to file suit against the FDA on grounds that the FDA unjustifiably delayed safety and health reviews for e-cigarette products.
November 30, 2018 - The FDA has warned yet another e-cigarette liquid maker for advertising products depicting food for children. Electric Lotus LLC, a California-based company, has been issued a warning for "advertising its e-cigarette liquids with nicotine in a way that may cause the products to resemble kid-friendly food like juice boxes and cookies."
November 14, 2018 - JUUL Labs announced that it will be suspending in-store sales of their most popular fruity e-liquid pod flavors.
The company also plans to take the first step towards eliminating its social media presence, which many have charged with being one of the larger contributing factors to JUUL’s appeal to minors. JUUL will still offer in-store sales of mint, menthol, and tobacco e-liquid pods for individuals who are trying to quit smoking cigarettes.
However, sales of fruity flavors, such as mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber, thought to be more enticing to teenagers, will be limited to online purchases only. The company says its working to develop technology to ensure that retailers comply with age requirements and restrict access to its products.
This is likely a preemptive step, as e-cigarette manufacturers prepare for new industry sanctions and regulations expected to be announced by the FDA later this week.
In an effort to combat the escalating number of teenage smokers, the FDA plans to unveil a ban on sales of flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations and strengthen the requirements for age verification of online sales of e-cigarettes.
JUUL Labs, which retains more than 70% of domestic e-cigarette market shares, will surely be in the FDA’s crosshairs as the agency initiates these new regulations. Kevin Burns, a spokesperson for JUUL Labs, says that the company will be deleting all of its social media accounts as well as continuing in efforts to monitor and remove inappropriate material from 3rd party accounts. Burns says that this is all an effort to remove JUUL entirely from participation in the social conversation. "To remove ourselves entirely from participation in the social conversation, we have decided to shut down our U.S.-based social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram," Burns explained. "Our presence on Twitter will be confined to non-promotional communications only."
October 31, 2018 - According to Buzzfeed News, "Juul offered to pay schools as much as $20,000 to introduce a vaping curriculum that would explicitly place more of the blame on peer pressure," However, “Juul consultants...encouraged students to try meditation and mindfulness exercises as an alternative to the vape pen, but failed to teach them about the dangers of vaping, experts said." Also, "according to an analysis of the curriculum published earlier this month in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Juul did not include information about how young people are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction." Experts in the analysis "also expressed concern that the company didn’t mention its marketing or flavors."
October 25, 2018 - In response to the FDA crackdown on e-cigarette manufacturers marketing to youth, one company decided to pull their MarkTen Elite and Apex by MarkTen pod-based products from the market.
Altria will also be narrowing down their e-cigarette flavor options to tobacco, mint, and menthol. In a letter to the head of the FDA, Altria CEO Howard Willard III issued the following statement: "We believe e-vapor products present an important opportunity for adult smokers to switch from combustible cigarettes,” said. "Yet, the current situation with youth use of e-cigarette products, left unchecked, has the potential to undermine that opportunity for adult smokers."
October 12, 2018 - The FDA issued a warning to China-based HelloCig Electronic Technology Co. for selling vaping e-liquid products containing active ingredients used in erectile dysfunction drugs Cialis and Viagra.
While the ingredients are approved for those specific pharmaceutical drugs, they are not approved for e-cigarette products.
According to the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, "Prescription drugs are carefully evaluated and labeled to reflect the risks of the medications and their potential interactions with other medicines, and vaping active drug ingredients is an ineffective route of delivery and can be dangerous.
There are no e-liquids that contain prescription drugs that have been proven safe or effective through this route of administration."
October 2, 2018 - Studies conducted have shown that e-cigarettes can contain dangerous chemicals that could be putting user's health at risk.
These chemicals include formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen, that is released when heated by high-voltage batteries and diacetyl, a flavoring chemical, found to be associated with bronchiolitis obliterans or Popcorn lung, a dangerous respiratory disease.
CNN reported that a previous study looked at 51 of the 7,000 e-cigarette flavors currently marketed to consumers and found that diacetyl rates were higher than laboratory normal levels in 39 of the flavors. The Center on Addiction reported similar findings and stated that "Diacetyl and other chemical flavorings found in e-juice may be considered safe to ingest in small quantities, but are dangerous when inhaled deeply and repeatedly into the lungs."
October 2, 2018 - The FDA seized more than 1,000 documents from Juul Labs headquarters in San Francisco in a surprise inspection.
The inspection “followed a request in April for documents that would help the agency better understand the high rates of use and appeal among the youth of Juul products.” According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Juul sales surged between 2016 and 2017. Retail sales data published in JAMA found that Juul’s sales increased from 2.2 million devices sold in 2016 to 16.2 million in 2017, with many of those customers being under the age of 18.
The FDA said the surprise inspection was conducted because of particular interest in whether Juul deliberately marketed to minors.
June 5, 2018 - Voters in San Francisco approved an ordinance that would ban the sale of flavored vaping liquids and also prohibit the sales of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. Becoming the first city in the nation to pass a ban of this kind, San Francisco has set a precedent for other cities to follow suit.
March 21, 2018 - In an effort that anti-smoking advocates are calling way overdue, the FDA is investigating the safety of menthol and other flavoring additives in tobacco products to determine if these additives should be more heavily restricted or even banned.
This investigation comes as e-cigarettes continue to gain overwhelming popularity amongst consumers. The FDA wants to determine whether these potential health risks necessitate readdressing the restrictions placed on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products containing flavoring additives. Earlier this week, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, announced that the FDA has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) – a process of collecting data and hearing expert testimony on the costs and benefits of tobacco flavoring additives to determine whether these products should be more heavily restricted or even banned. The FDA conducted an ANPRM to determine whether to ban methanol and other flavoring additives in 2013. To the detest of anti-smoking groups, no changes followed this ANPRM. The current ANPRM pertains to e-cigarettes and other non-combustible tobacco products. Flavor additives in combustible tobacco have been banned since 2009.
Almost all popular e-cigarettes contain some form of flavoring additive. Gottlieb noted that the intention of the flavoring additives in these products was obviously to appeal to the youth, middle-school and high-school students. Gottlieb said that he recognized the validity of the argument that these flavors help adult smokers to wean off of cigarettes. However, Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, disagreed with the validity of this claim. Myer explained that while there is an abundance of evidence that e-cigarette flavorings are associated with increased use among teens and young adults, there is almost no evidence that the flavoring will help cigarette smokers to quit.
If the FDA does decide to restrict or ban some or all tobacco flavoring additives, the agency will conduct a follow-up comment period. Robin Koval, president of Truth Initiative, said that in the best-case scenario, it will be several years before the restrictions or bans are put into effect. "The FDA is taking the right actions, so we are optimistic that they are serious about this," Koval said. "But time is of the essence. This has taken way too long."
January 31, 2018 - A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that the nicotine in e-cigarettes seems to cause damage to DNA in ways that would increase the risk of certain cancers for e-cigarette users.
According to lead researcher Moon-Zhong Tang, professor of environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine, the study showed that the vaporized nicotine not only damaged DNA but also its ability to repair itself.
The study is the first research to produce evidence that e-cigarettes could be carcinogenic. "It is certainly concerning, and certainly gives pause if one were to say e-cigarettes were safe and could be used by all people without consequences," said Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center and chair of the American Association for Cancer Research’s Tobacco and Cancer Subcommittee.
In fact, this is not the first study to expose the dangers of smoking these devices. Previous research has connected e-cigarettes to the life-threatening respiratory disease known as popcorn lung. Tang and his colleagues conducted the research using a laboratory, which they exposed to e-cigarette vapor containing nicotine and liquid solvents. The researchers also exposed mice to nicotine and liquid solvents separately.
While previous studies conducted on the safety of e-cigarettes have used e-liquids heated at high levels of electricity, which resulted in other dangerous chemicals such as diacetyl being exposed, Tang’s team used lower levels of electricity, at or below the voltage that most all e-cigarettes operate. In testing the nicotine-solvent combination, as well as the solvent alone, the researchers found that the nicotine alone, and not the solvent, produces the effects that caused damage to the DNA. The researchers conducted similar tests on cultured human lung and bladder cells and found the same effects. Not all animal research results in similar outcomes when tested in humans, so researchers cannot say for certain that a human trial would result in similar DNA damage. However, if further research does confirm Tang's results, Herbst says that could mean that e-cigarettes may carry their own cancer risk. Tang and his team are currently conducting research on the long-term effects of exposure to the nicotine in e-cigarettes using similar methods. From his research, Tang could not say whether he found e-cigarettes to be more dangerous than traditional cigarettes. "We just cannot guess with the data we have," Tang explained.
October 16, 2017 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday asked 21 e-cigarette companies, including the makers and importers of Vuse Alto and Myblu, to cough up information about whether more than 40 products are being illegally marketed.
This comes amid claims from consumers that the e-cigarette companies are using tactics to market their products to underage teenage consumers. Juul labs recently came under heat for potential illegal marketing practices, leading the FDA to conduct a full review of the manufacturer's marketing practices. If found in contention with the rules and regulations of marketing, these companies could find their products removed from the US market altogether.
February 8, 2016 - E-cigarettes are adult products that should be kept out of the hands of children. That is the focus of legislation that passed both the U.S. House and Senate that will potentially save the lives of many children, as the debate regarding the regulation of the e-cigarette industry continues.
President Obama signed the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015 into law on January 29. It requires manufacturers to put childproof caps on the small bottles of liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes. Liquid nicotine is sold in concentrated form for use in e-cigarettes and is often packaged in easy-to-open, brightly colored vials with appealing flavors. Just a single teaspoon of highly concentrated liquid nicotine is potent enough to kill a small child, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
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Last Modified: February 3rd, 2021 @ 08:51 am
If you are a Juul user, or use any other form of e-cigarettes, and became addicted or have developed lung or other life-altering injuries contact TorHoerman Law today for a free no-obligation consultation for your potential Juul lawsuit or vaping lung lawsuit.
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