Juul Labs Faces Class Action Lawsuits over Illegal Ads Targeting Teens and Youth
Written by Faith Anderson on August 20, 2019
The maker of the wildly popular Juul e-cigarette is the target of numerous lawsuits filed on behalf of teens who have become addicted to nicotine and suffered injuries as a result of “juuling.” Juul Labs introduced its Juul e-cigarette device in 2015 and quickly became the leading e-cigarette manufacturer in the United States. Over the past few years, Juul sales have skyrocketed and the device now accounts for roughly three-quarters of the e-cigarette market. At the same time, Juul Labs has come under a great deal of scrutiny amid claims that the company intentionally targeted children and teens with its branding and marketing and fostered what has been called an “epidemic” of e-cigarette addiction among youth and young adults.
Juul Epidemic Happened “By Design, Not By Accident”
Juul vape pens, which were originally marketed as an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking, have become extremely popular with young people, due in large part to the device’s ease of use, sleek, easily concealable design, and fruit- and dessert-flavored cartridges. On its website, Juul Labs claims that the company is “committed to improving the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes,” and a spokesman for Juul said in a statement, “Our product is intended to be a viable alternative for current adult smokers only. We do not want non-nicotine users, especially youth, to ever try our product.” However, a growing number of lawsuits have alleged that Juul e-cigarettes were intended to attract youth and that the teen vaping epidemic in the United States “was by design, not by accident.”
Juul Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Addicted Youth
Just this week, Juul Labs was hit with a class action lawsuit over its controversial Juul e-cigarettes. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 19-year-old Christian Foss, who began juuling at the age of 16 and subsequently suffered a nicotine addiction and worsened asthma symptoms. Foss’ lawsuit seeks to represent all Illinois minors who used the Juul device and names Juul Labs and Philip Morris (which recently bought a 35% stake in Juul for $12.8 billion) as defendants, alleging that the companies violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by using catchy ad campaigns that glamorized smoking to target children and teens.
Foss’ lawsuit isn’t the only legal action Juul Labs has faced lately. Just last week, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs, accusing the company of using false and deceptive marketing practices to attract teens and young adults to its e-cigarette device. Also last week, a West Virginia woman filed a potential class action lawsuit on behalf of her child, alleging that the makers of the Juul e-cigarette intentionally made the product attractive to youth, deceptively marketed it as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, when it is actually more potent and addictive than cigarettes, and regularly “exploit themes that resonate with teenagers while falsely denying doing so.”
A similar lawsuit was filed against Juul Labs in June 2018, by a mother who alleged that her son, who was 15 years old at the time, tried juuling and became addicted. His e-cigarette use and subsequent nicotine addiction, she claimed, “altered his brain physically and chemically.” The brain is still growing until about age 25 and the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and decision making has not yet developed fully during adolescence. As a result, teens and young adults are more likely to take risks with their health, including using nicotine, are more likely to become addicted to nicotine when they start smoking or using e-cigarettes at a young age, and face unique, potentially long-lasting risks when they expose their developing brains to nicotine.
Potential Health Risks of Juul e-Cigarettes
Not only are minors who use Juul e-cigarettes becoming addicted to nicotine at an alarming rate, some are experiencing serious health problems as well, possibly due to the fact that the amount of nicotine in one Juul cartridge is equivalent to the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes. On August 17, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it was looking into 94 possible cases of severe lung illness linked to vaping in 14 states between June 28 and August 15, and earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it has received 127 reports of seizures and other neurological symptoms that may be tied to e-cigarette use.
Contact an Experienced Juul Addiction Attorney
As of 2018, more than 3.6 million youth, including 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students, used e-cigarettes like Juul, and many have become addicted and are finding it difficult to stop using the devices, or have moved on from e-cigarettes to smoking traditional cigarettes. If you or someone you love has suffered a Juul addiction, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help. We are dedicated to helping consumers harmed by dangerous products and can help put you in touch with an attorney who has experience handling e-cigarette addiction claims.