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Can Coronavirus and Lawsuits Vaporize E-cigarettes?

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Health experts and officials warn that the e-cigarette Juul has created a teen vaping epidemic and vapers are advised to stop using e-cigarettes, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Santa Clara, CACoronavirus and e-cigarette use have one thing in common: they harm the lungs. And as of March 2020, hundreds of Juul e-cigarette lawsuits have been combined in a California federal court, with many more complaints expected.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says growing evidence indicates that vaping can harm lung health and vapers could be at greater risk if infected with the coronavirus. “COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of National Institute on Drug Abuse, reported the Washington Times earlier this month. And it goes without saying: Don’t share your vape.

Juul multidistrict litigation

According to Law360 (March 11, 2020), plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation over Juul Labs Inc.’s marketing and sale of e-cigarettes filed two consolidated complaints, alleging that the company hid the risks of addiction from using the devices, while aggressively marketing them to underage teenagers.

The MDL has consolidated lawsuits nationwide. Both potential class actions and individual personal injury cases allege that Juul Labs misleads consumers into thinking its products are less addictive than traditional cigarettes, according to the Judicial panel. The MDL is In re: Juul Labs Inc. Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, case number 3:19-md-02913, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Class action lawsuits in Florida and California claimed that Juul Labs used “copycat advertising” that replicated the colorful, youth-oriented ads used by large tobacco companies decades earlier when they targeted young customers.

Juul Personal Injury Lawsuit

Lisa Marie Vail filed a Juul lawsuit after her teen son died,  claiming the design made it difficult for parents to catch their kids vaping and help them stop before it was too late. “Juul is easily concealable from parents and teachers and can be used practically anywhere…Unlike traditional cigarettes, the scent does not linger on the body or in the breath of the user, making it undetectable after use,” according to her complaint, Vail v. Juul Labs. “Googling ‘hiding Juul in school’ or ‘how to ghost rip Juul’ returns hundreds of videos on how to Juul anywhere without detection.”

Another federal Juul lawsuit was filed on March 12, 2020 by a South Carolina teen and his mother. According to the complaint, the teen started vaping and developed a nicotine addiction when he was 15. Last August he “lost control of his breath” and spent two weeks in the intensive care unit.

At least 35 cases, including one fatality, have been identified in South Carolina alone. Ironically, South Carolina offered tax incentives to Juul and encourage the company to begin production in the state.

Juul and Lawmakers

In addition to its lawsuits, Juul has come under fire from lawmakers. They have threatened to subpoena Juul if it doesn't make available documents detailing its advertising practices regarding whether the e-cigarette maker intentionally targeted minors with its marketing.

The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general are currently investigating Juul Labs’ marketing practices. According to a 2020 Juul lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts attorney general, Juul purchased banner ads on child-oriented websites – including Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. “Juul also purchased advertisements on a range of websites designed to help middle school and high school students develop their mathematics and social studies skills,” states the complaint.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that last year, an outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping broke out in the U.S. To date, more than 2,700 people have been hospitalized and more than 60 who died from vaping-related lung injuries.


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