For decades, Americans have known about the dangers and risks of cigarette smoking. So, too, did the tobacco companies that deceived consumers and concealed the catastrophic health effects of their products. Many of these companies were ultimately held accountable and paid hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to those who suffered from the ravages of smoking. Now, e-cigarette manufacturers, such as JUUL Labs which marketed and sold their products as a safe alternative to tobacco, are being sued by consumers, including parents of minors, for similar reasons.
JUUL needs to be held accountable and provide compensation for knowingly engaging in deceptive marketing and exposing adults and youths to addiction, illness, injury, and death.
The Explosive Growth of E-Cigarettes Is a Public Health Crisis
The number of young adults aged 18 to 21 who tried JUUL increased more than 400 percent from July 2017 to October 2018, and e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among American youth. Recent studies by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 27.5% of high schoolers are active e-cigarette users, with over half of them citing JUUL as their primary brand.
JUUL, which accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. e-cigarette market, appeals to young people because of its inconspicuous and sleek design and powerful product. It looks like a computer flash drive, is small and easy to hide, and delivers a potent dose of nicotine (one JUUL pod reportedly contains 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine).
Early in JUUL’s development process the dangers of such high nicotine doses became apparent. An article in Reuters recounts early tests of the product resulting in subjects throwing up or left with their hands shaking from such high doses, leaving the development team with the idea of putting a kill switch in the device to limit nicotine intake. The idea went as far as a 2014 patent application by JUUL’s founders that would have warned users of dangerously high nicotine intake, but never got implemented.
After its initial release, the company immediately saw signs of the product’s popularity among teenagers. This allegedly led to some unrest within the company;
“Clearly, people internally had an issue with it,” [a former JUUL company manager] said, referring to sales of JUULs to teenagers. “But a lot of people had no problem with 500 percent year-over-year growth.” – Reuters Investigates
It’s not a secret that young customers are the most reliable returning customers for nicotine products. Tobacco companies utilized this fact, and JUUL has followed suit, regardless of the health risks.
Respiratory Issues and Illegal Marketing Practices
In the last few months, reports and claims have mounted that JUUL deliberately and illegally marketed its products to appeal to minors, causing youths to become addicted and vulnerable to lifelong health issues. Even more disturbing, there has been a widespread outbreak of serious respiratory problems associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, including several deaths. Recent evidence suggests that most of the vaping-related illnesses are likely caused by vitamin E oils present in THC vaping products. Such products are largely sold on the black market and are not federally regulated as JUUL products are.
Lawsuits Seek Compensation from JUUL for Wrongful Acts and Harm
The number of lawsuits filed against JUUL and other e-cigarette companies for their deceptive practices and the harm caused by their products is growing every week. While each suit is different, they share many common allegations. Specifically, the lawsuits against JUUL claim that:
- JUUL deliberately and illegally marketed its products to appeal to minors, causing youths to become addicted and vulnerable to lifelong health problems. This includes explicitly targeting teens through its presence on several social media platforms and use of online “influencers.” Beyond this, they failed to respond with the urgency the situation demanded when they realized that a large number of minors were developing dependencies on their products. JUUL fraudulently concealed information about the extreme levels of nicotine that JUUL products contain and deliver, and how those levels promote addiction to their products.
- JUUL products contain dangerously high levels of nicotine, which can lead to seizures, a known symptom of nicotine poisoning.
- The use of JUUL products has led to severe respiratory problems, other health issues, or death.
- JUUL knowingly sold over 1 million contaminated pods and then demanded a refund from their supplier, Alternative Ingredients, while still selling the products and not warning their customers
Researchers are still learning about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping, and further study may reveal even more health problems related to these products. JUUL and other e-cigarette companies have not been subject to rigorous enough investigations into the safety of their products, and both the companies and the government knows it. Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb has recently called teen vaping an “epidemic” and stated that all JUUL products should be removed from the market.
Bringing Accountability to Corporate Misdeeds
To date, a wide range of illnesses and injuries have been associated with the use of JUUL and other e-cigarettes. Berman & Simmons is currently pursuing claims against JUUL for such health issues as:
- Nicotine addiction
- Heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease
- Psychological complications
- Lung damage / disease / illness
- Respiratory illness
For over a century, our dangerous and defective products lawyers have been holding irresponsible corporations accountable for the damage they cause. We are the statewide leader in product liability law, and we are now using our unmatched experience and the most resources of any law firm in Maine to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for clients who have fallen victim to the public health crisis caused by JUUL.
If you or your child has suffered an illness, injury, or other health problem that you believe may be associated with JUUL or e-cigarette use, please contact Berman & Simmons today at 207-784-3576 to discuss your questions and concerns. We welcome the opportunity to help you.