Lawsuit Accuses JUUL of Violating Federal Law by Marketing to Teens

A new lawsuit alleges that JUUL Labs Inc. illegally underplays the dangers of its product to make it more appealing to kids.

A Little Background First

Experts have warned in recent years that e-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco use for teens. The problem has become so dire that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now says there is an “epidemic” of youth smoking. One of the most popular vaping devices among young people is JUUL, a small device that looks like a USB device, which includes a pod for liquid nicotine. [1]

The Lawsuit

Filed April 15, the lawsuit names Juul, it’s parent company Altria Group Inc., and Philip Morris USA Inc. as defendants. It was brought by the parents of a 15-year-old girl from Sarasota, Florida, who they say became addicted to nicotine through her JUUL use. The companies are accused in the suit of fraud and deceptive trade practices, among other things.

A lawyer for the girl’s parents said his clients filed the lawsuit as a putative class action on behalf of other children and parents facing similar circumstances. He pointed out that data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that nearly 5 million middle and high school students were current users of a tobacco product in 2018. Much of the problem can be attributed to the popularity of JUUL among younger vapers, “creating an entirely new generation of nicotine addiction.”

JUUL e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine and its pods have as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. [2]

“It really is tragic. For decades the public health community worked against the powerful tobacco industry to reduce youth smoking. … That entire trend is now being reversed. … For the first time in decades, youth smoking of regular combustive cigarettes is up.” [1]

The lawsuit notes that Altria, which owns tobacco giant Philip Morris USA, recently purchased a 35% stake in JUUL after the e-cigarette maker vowed not to market its products to young people. But the agreement instead provides more shelf space for JUUL products and places them in predominant areas of retailers where teens can see them. [2]

Read: FDA: E-Cigarette Makers JUUL, Altria Failing to Reduce Youth Vaping

Another lawyer for the girl’s parents said:

“JUUL has captured a broad segment of the adolescent and teenage market by applying the same techniques historically used by cigarette makers.

The companies tell regulators they are not marketing to that vulnerable age group while they simultaneously and knowingly created a massive increase in youth nicotine addiction.”

Sources:

[1] Law.com

[2] UPI