Although the practice of vaping was once seen as both attractive and safe, the tides have taken a major turn. After countless cases have revealed the highly addictive and potentially harmful nature of vaping products, as well as misleading marketing tactics used by many manufacturers, both individuals and government agencies have filed suits against the makers of Juul — one of the most prominent e-cigarette products that have now fallen out of favor.
Studies have found that indoor environments often contain organic levels averaging two to five times of those you’ll find outdoors. But while chemical contaminants like VOCs may be inhaled without someone realizing it, e-cigarettes are knowingly inhaled — and they’ve created some major problems. Although they were initially quite popular, particularly among younger users (with 13% of teens engaging in vaping), these products have been on the receiving end of a lot of flack. According to lawsuits, Juul makers relied on “slick marketing” techniques and social media campaigns to promote their products, which understandably had a major influence on younger generations. And because the products were purportedly both fun and safe, many users didn’t completely realize what they were getting into.
Despite the fact that 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, canines are often constant companions for U.S. residents. However, some people brought their Juuls — rather than their four-legged friends — everywhere they go. And, as it turns out, this decision ended causing substantial harm to many users.
At least one Oregon student has sued Juul and Atria Group (which owns 35% of Juul’s stock) for injury and addiction, as the plaintiff claims that the company did not warn consumers that the products were addictive and that they could cause injury. As a result of the student’s usage, he is now addicted to nicotine and has suffered seizures — both of which, he alleges, would not have occurred if he had been aware of the product’s risks. The suit claims that Juul failed to tell consumers that its products contained any nicotine at all in early advertisements and that Juul still has not disclosed that its e-cigarettes contain harmful ingredients. Moreover, the suit claims that Juul has shown negligence in marketing its products to minors. And while 96% of personal injury cases are settled through negotiation, the student in question is requesting a jury trial.
This is far from the only case being brought against Juul, however. Aside from other lawsuits filed on behalf of injured individuals, several local governments and organizations — including Boulder and Eagle counties in Colorado and school districts in Alabama, Missouri, and other states — are also taking legal action against the e-cigarette company. Now, several states are investigating Juul or have already taken things a step further. California, North Carolina, New York, Minnesota, and Arizona have all seen their attorney’s general file suits against the company, and it’s likely that more litigation may be forthcoming. Many of the suits claim that Juul used Big Tobacco tactics to target younger consumers and to promote a “safer” alternative to cigarettes that turned out to be anything but.
Upon announcing New York State’s suit, Attorney General Letitia James explained in a statement: “There can be no doubt that Juul’s aggressive advertising has significantly contributed to the public health crisis that has left youth in New York and across the country addicted to its products… By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, Juul is putting countless New Yorkers at risk. I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth.”
Although the President announced a new policy on January 2 that would eliminate most flavored e-cigarettes to discourage teen vaping, many lawmakers on the state level want to address the issue on the state, rather than the federal, level. Currently, Juul has suspended its advertising and has ceased order acceptance for mint-flavored vaping pods — but whether the problem will be solved altogether remains to be seen.