How JUUL Targeted Teens
For the last decade, e-cigarettes and vaping have subtly and quietly become a popular, yet much debated, alternative to traditional tobacco products. While companies have marketed vaping as a cleaner, safer way for smokers to quit nicotine, this new technology is not without its fair share of risks, especially for children. It was only until recently that the media and government officials started building campaigns against the industry.
At the center of these campaigns is JUUL Labs, Inc., which is by far the most popular e-cigarette company in the United States. In addition to the first of many wrongful death lawsuits leveled against the company, the company is also facing criticism and potential litigation for its marketing campaigns.
Marketing False Claims to Teens
For the first six months on the market, JUUL Labs, Inc. utilized social media posts, hashtags, email campaigns, influences, and brand ambassadors to promote their fruit-flavored products to younger consumers, as reported in a study by Stanford University. The study noted that the campaign became broader for the next two-and-a-half years, but teen-oriented targeting was still heavily prevalent.
Alongside this use of the digital space to market their products, JUUL has also faced additional lawsuits from state departments in California, New York, and North Carolina, according to NBCNews. School officials from New York high schools stated that JUUL employees held launch parties at public schools and promoted their products as safer than cigarettes to teenagers. This advertising strategy came under fire from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which issued a warning letter to JUUL and an investigation into the company, arguing that JUUL mislead consumers and children, in particular.
While JUUL has significantly decreased their social media presence and pulled many of their popular products from the U.S. market, including the fruit-flavored pods that were common among young adults, the lasting effects of their marketing campaigns are still being felt today. International communities are still able to purchase most JUUL products and are only now beginning to close their doors to the company after a vaping outbreak among children, as reported by the New York Times.
Lawsuits Filed Against JUUL
Despite efforts to mitigate JUUL’s influence, JUUL use is ranked highest among young adults between the ages of 15- to 24-years-old, according to research by Jama Pediatrics. This data suggests that the initial wave of vaping marketing was effective in capturing a young consumer base that is likely now feeling the ramifications of nicotine addiction and lung injuries due to using JUUL products. This has led to a string of lawsuits against the company based on not only the serious medical conditions users suffered, but also their marketing tactics.
The most notorious case against JUUL is Vail v. Juul Labs, Inc., which was filed a federal court in Northern California by Lisa Marie Vale on behalf of her son, Daniel David Wakerfield. The suit alleges that Daniel became addicted to JUUL’s nicotine products as a minor when he was 15-years-old and, within a year of vaping, suffered from breathing issues that resulted in three hospitalizations. These problems would continue until he was 18, when he passed away on August 31, 2018. The suit was filed in October 2019 and is still being litigated.
In addition to this wrongful death suit, multiple suits have been filed against JUUL based on a variety of health conditions, including hemorrhagic strokes, bronchiolitis obliterans (“popcorn lung”), gastrointestinal illness, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also reported over 2,800 lung-related injuries or deaths due to e-cigarettes, a number that is continuously growing.
Do I Have a Case Against JUUL?
Many of the lawsuits against JUUL are still in court and a precedent has not been set as to how each state will approach these cases. Many are centered in Northern California, as JUUL is based in San Francisco, but the company has begun to move their operations to Washington, D.C. Each lawsuit must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the JUUL user’s medical conditions, their age, expert opinions, whether or not JUUL committed regulatory violations, and whether or not the user utilized any other smoking products, such as tobacco or marijuana. The majority of product liability claims against JUUL are filed by individuals 26-years-old or younger and had no prior lung injuries before using JUUL. In addition, the injuries must have occurred shortly after using JUUL or due to long-term use because of an addiction to JUUL products.
To better understand if you have a case against JUUL, your best option is to discuss the matter with an attorney. If you or your child developed an injury or medical condition after using JUUL vaping products, please contact the Omaha product liability attorney at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Our law firm can review your case, medical records, FDA and CDC reports, and work with experts to determine whether or not you have a claim. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to learn what options are available to you.
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