Virtually any adult or child in the U.S. knows those smoking cigarettes is bad for your health, but not everyone knows about the dangers of e-cigarettes like those made by Juul.
Cigarette smoking can increase blood pressure, increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung disorders. It also contributes to the development of virtually every type of cancer known to man and is cited as a cause in 80-90% of all lung cancer cases. Because of these health risks, companies have long been on the search for an alternative to cigarettes which offer the “benefits” of smoking without all the health risks.
Smoking e-cigarettes or “vaping” is believed by some to fill this need. E-cigarette use has become a major way for people to get their nicotine fix without the unpleasantness of smoking tobacco cigarettes. The news isn’t all good though and Juul Labs may soon face its detractors.
Three lawsuits have been filed against Juul, alleging the devices caused users to become addicted to nicotine without knowing it was possible. One of the lawsuits was filed by parents who claim their 15-year old son is now addicted to the nicotine from using a Juul device. The Attorney General in the State of Massachusetts has opened an investigation into marketing practices of Juul to determine if they are targeting minors.
The massive and growing popularity of vaping is why Juul, an e-cigarette company was founded in 2017. Juul has quickly overtaken much of the vape market, perhaps because the company has spent more money on marketing as an alternative to cigarettes than other companies which manufacture vaping devices.
Juul vaping devices are reportedly intended for adults but they have become highly popular with teens and high school students. The devices are so popular that the term “juuling” has been coined to describe smoking an e-cigarette. A 2017 CDC study has raised concerns that vaping may become this generation’s smoking problem as high school and middle school students are now vaping more often than they smoke regular cigarettes.
Why is Juul So Popular?
Juul Labs, which makes Juul e-cigarettes already controls about two-thirds of the vaping market and is valued at about $15 billion. The company states that they began with the intention of helping adult smokers to stop using cigarettes. Juul devices are small, convenient and easy to carry and easy to use. Though Juul e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, a small insertable pod provides a nicotine hit which is just as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes and other nicotine products.
The refill cartridges or pods used in Juul devices come in an array of flavors like fruit medley, crème Brulee, cool cucumber, cool mint, and mango. They are said to be “less harsh” than other e-cigarettes and the device itself is attractively decorated, all of which may make them more attractive to kids.
Juul Labs is facing three lawsuits currently. Two filed in California and one in New York courts. All three lawsuits claim that Juul’s early marketing campaigns targeted children, that nicotine levels aren’t clearly stated, that Juul’s use of social media further encourages teens and that there aren’t enough safeguards to prevent minors from purchasing the products.
Specifically, lawsuits have cited:
- Juul “VAPORIZED” campaign which featured young people, encouraging them to buy Juul devices
- Juul pods contain the same amount of nicotine as in one pack of cigarettes, making them more addictive than advertising suggests
- A study showing Juul employs social media influencers to boost the device’s popularity amongst teens
- A lack of safeguards to prevent those under 21 from purchasing the devices
California Lawsuits – One lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and one lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court allege that Juul products were deceptively marketed as safe, despite being more addictive than regular cigarettes. Filers claim that the products were purchased to help quit smoking but are now addicted to Juul.
New York Lawsuit – One lawsuit filed by the parents of a 15-year old boy who is said to be addicted to nicotine after using Juul devices. The nicotine addiction has reportedly caused social and behavioral issues, school troubles and disciplinary issues as he seeks to continue “juuling” despite consequences administered at home and school.
All seek monetary damages and an injunction against marketing practices used by Juul.
Traditional cigarettes and tobacco products, along with over-the-counter forms of smoking cessation products which contain nicotine are well-regulated by the FDA and by state organizations. E-cigarettes have not yet fallen under the same umbrella.
e-Cigarettes were not regulated at all until 2016 when the Food and Drug Administration began requiring e-cigarette manufacturers begin submitting premarket applications in order to sell nicotine products. The deadline for application submission was supposed to be 2018, but the date has been pushed forward to 2022.
In April of 2018, the FDA said that they were planning on cracking down on illegal sales of Juul to minors. The FDA demanded that Juul turn over research which they claim shows the devices are less effective, but no action has been taken yet.
A number of groups have sued the FDA due to inaction regarding e-cigarettes and the Massachusetts Attorney General has now stated that she will be launching an investigation into Juul specifically, regarding its marketing and lack of supervisory controls to prevent sales to people under the age of 21.
Juul has said that the company will cooperate with the FDA and welcome the opportunity to work with the Massachusetts AG to ensure that the products aren’t purchased by those under 21. With regards to the lawsuits, the company has said that they don’t believe the cases have merit and intend to defend against the claims “vigorously”.