Family Sues Juul For Allegedly Marketing E-Cigs To Underage Teens

By Lindsey Weedston 05/10/19

The lawsuit is centered around a teen who reportedly didn't know that the fruity Juul vape she was using contained nicotine.

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JUUL vaping cartridges and JUUL battery charging by book bag

A 15-year-old girl and her family have filed a class action lawsuit against the popular vape company Juul over allegations that it used deceptive marketing tactics to purposely attract underage kids to their products.

Juul has been accused of this repeatedly due to the fact that its products often come in brightly colored packaging and fruity flavors that some believe are naturally appealing to kids.

Juul has consistently responded to similar allegations by insisting that its products were only ever intended for people who already smoke standard “combustible” cigarettes in order to help them transition away from traditional smoking.

“Our product is intended to be a viable alternative for current adult smokers only,” a Juul spokesperson said to Rolling Stone. “We do not want non-nicotine users, especially youth, to ever try our product. To this end, we have launched an aggressive action plan to combat underage use as it is antithetical to our mission.”

However, this class action lawsuit out of Sarasota, Florida claims that Juul knew that “e-cigarettes were not safe for nonsmokers, and posed a risk of aggravating addiction in those already addicted to cigarettes.”

The lawsuit is centered on a 15-year-old girl called “A.N.” who alleges that she started using Juul vape products at age 14 because of the fruity flavors without knowing that they contained nicotine.

Today, she is both addicted to nicotine and suffering from seizures allegedly caused by this addiction. The complaint accuses Juul of “mimicking Big Tobacco’s past marketing practices” and contributing to the rising rates of teen e-cigarette use.

As the biggest e-cigarette company in the nation, holding nearly 75% of the market, Juul has already weathered accusations of worsening the rates of nicotine addiction in the U.S., particularly among young people.

A 2018 Monitoring the Future survey found that the number of teens who vape either nicotine or cannabis products doubled in the space of a single year. 

Twenty percent of surveyed high school seniors reported using vape products that contained nicotine, and another 25% claimed that they just vaped the flavoring. However, as was the case for A.N., health experts fear that many teenagers who think they’re only using the fruity flavoring are actually consuming nicotine.

“Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices,” said National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. “However, it is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health; the development of the teen brain; and the potential for addiction.”

The FDA is already cracking down on what is being called a teen vaping “epidemic” and has sent over 60 warning letters to Juul distributors about selling to underage kids. Juul has responded by removing most of its flavored vape products from stores.

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at NotSorryFeminism.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyWeedston

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