JUUL Labs is the largest e-cig brand in the US. The company has been embroiled in a bitter controversy lately due to claimed unethical advertising practices. It has been accused of unleashing teen vaping epidemic in the US.
Established in 2017, JUUL Labs has moved quickly through the ranks and today holds more than 75 percent market share. The company that is valued more than $15 billion is now expanding its presence in the UK, Canada, and Israel. Altria Group, owner of Marlboro cigarette brand, holds about 35 percent market share in the e-cigarette company.
Details of the Lawsuits Against JUUL Labs
A lot of people have filed product liability lawsuits against JUUL. The lawsuits contend that JUUL and major shareholder Altria Group Inc. had downplayed the risks of e-cigarettes in advertising their products to teens.
Recently, two parents in New York had filed a civil lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Altri, Philip Morrison, and a local e-cig shop claiming that their teen daughter was sickened due to using JUUL e-cigarettes.
The lawsuit alleges that Jull Labs had used ‘big tobacco’s youth marketing playbook’ that led to their daughter become addicted to e-cig nicotine. In addition, the lawsuit claims that the company has falsely marketed itself as separate from ‘big cigarette’ when in fact the major shareholder of the company – Altria Group – is the parent company of the traditional Marlboro cigarette brand.
Another lawsuit against the company was filed in Kansas City in which the plaintiff alleges that he got hooked to JUUL e-cigarettes while in high school. The lawsuit alleges that the company had targeted younger people many of whom were not addicted to cigarette. It is alleged in the lawsuit that the company led the teens to believe that e-cigs was a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. The plaintiff of the lawsuit claims that the company never mentioned the nicotine content that led many to believe it was safe. JUUL advertisement targeted at teenagers led to vaping addiction that subsequently resulted in health problems including respiratory problems and coughing fits.
A law enforcement official in North Carolina had also sued JUUL claiming that it had not downplayed the risks of vaping and requested to the court to order the company to limit the flavors of the e-cigarettes that are sold to consumers.
The lawsuits filed against JUUL Labs allege that the company used illegal marketing practices by targeting the products to youths. This led to a vaping addiction among youths that led to seizures, strokes, and even deaths.
Juul Targeting Youth
Laws prohibit promoting e-cigarettes to people aged 21 years and younger. Still, the prevalence of JUUL e-cigarettes among primary and high school students is high.
A CDC report states that nearly 20 percent of high school seniors in the US vape. In addition, a New York state health department report found that nearly 40 percent of senior high school students use e-cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes among students has increased by nearly 17 percent between 2014 and 2018.
A lot of this surge in teen vaping is blamed on youth-targeted advertising campaigns of JUUL.
The main factor that makes JUUL e-cigs popular among young individuals is enticing flavors. While federal legislations prohibit selling of flavored tobacco, JUUL is able to circumvent the law by selling flavored e-liquids such as mango, fruit medley, crème Brulee, and cool cucumber.
JUUL Labs has also been accused in lawsuits that it does not specify the actual nicotine content. A lot of people don’t know that the JUUL e-cigarettes contain high nicotine content.
Most other e-cigarettes have nicotine leave ranging from 5 to 35 mg per millimeter of liquid. In contrast, JUUL e-cigarettes contain as much as 59 mg of nicotine per millimeter of liquid. Younger individuals are particularly at risk due to this high level of nicotine.
According to JUUL, one e-cig pod has about the same nicotine content as a pack of cigarettes. But experts refute this argument due to the fact that some of the nicotine content in e-cigarettes is lost due to filtration. On the other hand, nicotine is released unadulterated in Jull e-cigarettes. So, the company’s claim that e-cigarette is a less harmful as compared to traditional cigarettes is not true.
No research studies carried out to date confirm that nicotine is effective in quitting cigarette addiction. In contrast, JUUL e-cigarettes create an addiction problem since they contain more nicotine content as compared to regular cigarettes.
Dangers of JUUL E-Cigarette Use Among Youths
The research about the effect of e-cigarettes is still ongoing. According to the CDC, some e-cigarette ingredients can be harmful to the lungs when inhaled. The flavors used in the e-cigarettes cannot be processed by lungs increasing the risk of lung problems.
The CDC had found that a lot of kids had been injured due to breathing or swallowing flavored e-liquids. The aerosol in the e-cigarettes that are generated due to warming e-liquids results in the release of many potentially harmful substances that have been including heavy metals like tine, nickel, and lead, volatile organic compounds (VOC), diacetyl, nicotine, and other cancer-causing chemicals.
The high nicotine content in JUUL e-cigarettes is a particular risk for teens. Nicotine has been linked to cancer, immunosuppressive, reproductive, and cardiovascular problems. Research has shown that exposure to nicotine because an adverse health effect on the heart, lung, eyes, and kidneys. Children who are exposed to high nicotine content are at risk of peripheral arterial disorder and coronary vascular disease.
Vaping JUUL e-cigarette can introduce harmful substance to the lungs. Prolonged use of the e-cigarettes can result in heart, lung, kidney, and many other problems.
The Aftermath of the JUUL E-Cigarette Lawsuits
In response to the allegations made in the lawsuits, JUUL has decided to change the models for the ads to be over 35. The company has also decided to pull back some flavors such as cucumber and mango from retail stores. However, the company continues to sell the mint and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes. In addition, the company has shut down Instagram and Facebook accounts that were alleged to market products to youths.
Due to the severe breathing problems and deaths related to vaping, NY officials have recently voted banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. However, the sale of flavored e-cigarette is legal elsewhere as the moment of this writing.
In light of the recent lawsuits that point to shady marketing practices of JUUL Labs, the FDA had issued a warning to the company that it may face penalties. The FDA warned the company that it may face sanctions and seizure of e-cig products if it does not revoke the unverified claim that its e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Moreover, Jull and other e-cig manufacturers are given six months to submit an application with the FDA to get market approval.
Experts say that JUUL will unlikely get market approval due to the allegation of promoting vaping among youths. More lawsuits are expected in the coming months due to the harmful effects of vaping among youths. Most of the product liability cases against JUUL are likely to be consolidated in the form of a multidistrict litigation to speed up the process.