JUUL Epidemic Culminates in Multiple Lawsuits

Lerner & Rowe Injury Attorneys
JUUL injury attorney
A JUUL injury attorney can help you if you suffer a vaping injury.

In recent months, harsh censure has been brewing against the e-cigarette company JUUL Labs. Whether one thinks of their questionable marketing tactics or their alleged surreptitious behaviors, the word “JUUL” doesn’t exactly bring a pleasant image to mind—and for good reason.

The company is dealing with attacks on multiple fronts, from trying to appease the FDA to dealing with state and individual lawsuits. But how did JUUL get such a bad reputation? Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys examine how JUUL became a household name, and not in a good way. 

What Is the JUUL?

The JUUL is an electronic cigarette developed first by PAX Labs. Eventually, the division in charge of the JUUL split off and became JUUL Labs. Different from other e-cigs on the market, the JUUL is a small, portable, sleek device that doesn’t look anything like a cigarette. In fact, it more closely resembles a flash drive.

The JUUL is popular because of its ease of concealability, and not just because of its size: Its emitted vapor dissipates quickly and leaves little to no odor behind, allowing even students to JUUL while in the classroom without getting caught.

JUUL device and pods.
The JUUL device and pods.

Prior to JUUL’s debut, the e-cigarette market in America was struggling. But with their nicotine punch (at 5% per volume, in some cartridges) that hits harder than most other e-cigs on the market, JUULs quickly gained popularity.

However, in early advertisements for the JUUL, the company failed to disclose that the JUUL contained nicotine, or, at best, would disclose such information in a nearly illegibly small font. This is one point of contention that has individuals, parents, students, and legislators furious. It seems to many that JUUL acted with a lack of transparency to more easily hit their sales quota.

In addition, early advertisements for the JUUL featured bright colors and very young-looking individuals, leading some to believe JUUL was targeting minors from the start. JUUL maintains its stance that it has never marketed and never will market to minors, but that remains to be settled in a court of law.

JUUL spokesman Ted Kwong said, “Our product has always only been intended to be a viable alternative for the one billion current adult smokers in the world. We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products.” Even so, some are left wondering how JUUL could allegedly wreak irreparable havoc on communities only to make an attempt to save face at the eleventh hour.

What Are the Harms of Vaping?

Speaking of irreparable havoc, e-cigarettes come with a plethora of harms. Before delving into vaping generally, let’s examine nicotine specifically. One comprehensive review found the following:

Nicotine is well known to have serious systemic side effects in addition to being highly addictive. It adversely affects the heart, reproductive system, lung, kidney, etc. Many studies have consistently demonstrated its carcinogenic potential. . . .

Nicotine is one of the most addicting agent[s]. The US surgeon general (2010) has concluded nicotine to be as addictive as cocaine or heroin. . . .

Nicotine causes catecholamine release and stimulates the autonomic system. There is increased glycogen synthesis due to α-adrenoceptor stimulation. This leads to reduction in the fasting blood glucose levels. It also causes lipolysis thus decreasing body weight. . . .

The stimulation of nAChRs by nicotine has biologic effects on cells important for initiation and progression of cancer. . . . 

Nicotine causes catecholamine release both locally and systemically leading to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and cardiac contractility. It reduces blood flow in cutaneous and coronary vessels; and increases blood flow in the skeletal muscles. Due to restricted myocardial oxygen delivery there is reduced cardiac work. In a study, chewing a low dose (4 mg) of nicotine gum by healthy nonsmokers blunted the increase in coronary blood flow that occurs with increased heart rate produced by cardiac pacing. Thus, persistent stimulation by nicotine can contribute to Coronary Vascular Disease by producing acute myocardial ischemia. (Mishra et al.)

Vaping devices.
The JUUL and other vaping devices.

There is much more to be said about the dangers of nicotine, and JUUL cartridges can have up to 5% per volume. This is more than twice the amount that some other e-cigs on the market contain. In fact, one JUUL pod contains nearly an equivalent amount to that of a pack of cigarettes. That’s right. You vape one JUUL pod, and bam—an entire cigarette pack’s worth of nicotine is now coursing through you.

But remember: E-cigs and JUUL don’t contain just nicotine. Here are some other harmful agents found to be in e-cigarettes:

  • Acrolein—Believe it or not, this chemical is a potent weed killer and is known to cause extensive DNA damage, COPD, and other ailments. It may even contribute to lung cancer and asthma.
  • Benzoic Acid—A chemical used to enhance the potency of nicotine and convert free-base nicotine to nicotine salts, benzoic acid can cause nausea, vomiting, coughing, sore throat, and abdominal pain, among other ailments.
  • Formaldehyde—One of the most frightening agents, for sure, this is a potent preservative and disinfectant while also being a known human carcinogen.
  • Glycerine—While safe much of the time, this chemical can cause irritation and cell damage when inhaled through e-cig devices.
  • Heavy Metals—Both the casing and the contents of some e-cig devices contain carcinogenic metals such as chromium, lead, and nickel, which are then vaped in the heated aerosol the devices produce.
  • Propylene Glycol—An alternative form of antifreeze, some individuals can experience irritation of the throat and eyes when exposed to this agent.
  • Other Ingredients—The list could go on. E-cigarette companies are not required to make their ingredient lists public, so we still don’t know what else could be in the cartridges. Other potentially harmful ingredients that could be in e-cig cartridges include diacetyl, benzaldehyde, cinnamaldehyde, vanillin, pulegone, citral, and more.

And let’s take a look at how all these ingredients, when combined and vaped through an e-cigarette’s aerosol, can cause harm to you:

  • Respiratory Illnesses such as:
  • Mental health issues such as:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Addiction
    • Irritability
    • Mood swings

The worst part? Many of the long-term effects of vaping still aren’t known. That’s right. Even with all we do know about vaping, nicotine, and all the other harmful ingredients, there is yet to exist any in-depth, long-term studies on the effects of vaping. But one thing’s for sure: People are getting injured. If you suffer from a vaping injury, contact a JUUL injury attorney from Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys.

Recent Developments

These past few months have seen a dramatic course of events. To begin, JUUL ceased all advertising in the U.S. Additionally, JUUL removed its crème, mango, cucumber, and fruit flavors from U.S. shelves and from its website. Not too long after this, JUUL also halted all U.S. sales of its mint flavor, by far the most popular remaining flavor. At the moment, JUUL now only offers tobacco and menthol flavors.

Yet even so, discontinued flavors are still available in some stores. These storeowners are not technically breaking any laws since the discontinued products are not federally banned, and if they are obtained legally, there isn’t anything JUUL can do. Some store owners have clandestine suppliers, and some get their pods from Canada. Regardless, JUUL’s decision to cease flavored products in the U.S. comes after the apple has already fallen from the tree.

Millions of middle and high school students have been taking up e-cigarettes at an alarming rate. From 2011 to 2019, the percentage of high school students who vaped went up from 1.5% to 27.5%. Likewise, middle school students saw an increase from 0.5% to 10.5%. Regardless of JUUL Labs’s intentions, the vaping epidemic has quickly been growing out of control.

To combat the crisis, school districts have been forced to take extreme measures. Many schools have installed vape sensors in bathrooms, a common location where students like to sneak in some quality vape time. If that doesn’t work well enough, you can remove the restroom doors altogether, as some schools have done. All of these modifications have been costing the school districts much money, money that is sought as damages in many lawsuits currently in formation.

Severe Pushback

Individuals, states, and school districts are all suing JUUL for a variety of reasons. Whether for alleged fraudulent advertising or negligence, JUUL is facing a great challenge. In fact, JUUL plans on letting go over 600 employees and cutting their spending budget by $1 billion to brace for the impact of not only an expected drop in popularity (due to the fact they discontinued their most popular flavor), but also of the prolific lawsuits. 

These lawsuits are the result of thousands of people having contracted EVALI, a deadly vaping illness, and some have even died. While vitamin E acetate is a chemical of concern and is mostly present in adulterated THC oil cartridges, according to the CDC, other non-THC e-cigs cannot be ruled out just yet.

JUUL maintains its position that the lawsuits are baseless, and the company plans on fighting the allegations in the courtroom. In one statement, JUUL Labs said, “Juul Labs does not believe the cases have merit and will be defending them vigorously.” It’s all hands on deck for JUUL as they do their best to efficiently utilize their remaining resources. In light of recent events, the company has even considered selling its recently purchased San Francisco office tower.

Person exhaling vape aerosol.
A person in a red hoodie exhaling vape aerosol.

The future remains uncertain for JUUL, as is also true for everyone who suffered injury from JUUL’s products. Some people recover well, and others need a ventilator for life. The nature of EVALI is still a mystery, and even experts don’t fully know the long-time hurdles people can expect from a vaping injury. Because of this, JUUL could be facing trouble for months, if not years to come. And, just as plausible, victims of vaping injuries may end up dealing with routine, life-long medical expenses.

What Now?

All we can do now is wait for events to wrap up. As JUUL Labs handles its lawsuits, we can only hope that scientists further research the long-term effects of vaping and EVALI. With that data, it would become easier to educate the youth so they don’t conduct any dangerous behaviors that may harm themselves. 

Remember, if you are a non-smoker, do not start vaping/e-cigs, according to the CDC. Only smokers trying to quit cigarettes should consider using an e-cigarette, but even then, the JUUL is not an approved FDA cessation method and is facing blowback from the FDA because of some statements a JUUL spokesperson made at a school presentation.

Above all, talk with your friends and family. Have an open, honest conversation about JUULs/e-cigarettes and the dangers involved. Stay vigilant, and act with prudence and care when it comes to your health. There are abundant resources available to help you or someone you know quit vaping. Don’t wait until it’s too late. 

If you or someone you know does suffer from a vape injury, however, be sure to contact a JUUL injury attorney from Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys.

Need the Counsel of a JUUL Injury Attorney?

Many people that picked up the JUUL didn’t know the effects or even what was contained in the pods. Some of those people are now suffering life-long injuries. If you suffer a vape injury, contact a JUUL injury attorney from Lerner and Rowe. We’ll give you a free consultation and work with you on your personal injury case.

Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Also, you can contact us with an online form or through our convenient LiveChat feature. Finally, we are always available to take your call at (844) 977-1900. We don’t collect anything until we win your case, so don’t wait; call Lerner and Rowe today!

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.