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Parents Are Taking Back Control of their Kids’ Health by Suing Vaping Companies over Deceptive Marketing

With the rise of vaping and e-cigarette use in the country, we are seeing the long-lasting health effects of prolonged use for teens and young adults.

Many parents are now fighting back by suing vaping companies, like Juul, for targeting their teens.

“Are vaping or e-cigarettes a good alternative to smoking?”

The answer is a resounding NO!

In the past (and maybe until now), e-cigarette companies have advertised their product as something that can help people quit smoking. However, the American Heart Association (AHA) warns that vaping and e-cigarettes should not be promoted as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. In fact, here are a few reasons from the AHA website about why vaping and e-cigarettes are not a better alternative to smoking:

  • Most e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm the developing brains of teens, kids and fetuses in women who vape while pregnant. Some types expose users to even more nicotine than traditional cigarettes.
  • In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette vapor includes potentially harmful substances such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to a serious lung disease), cancer-causing chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. Users breathe in these toxic contaminants, and non-users nearby risk secondhand exposure.
  • The liquid used in e-cigarettes can be dangerous, even apart from its intended use. Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing the liquid through their skin or eyes.
  • E-cigarettes have been linked to thousands of cases of serious lung injury, some resulting in death. While the exact cause is still not confirmed, the CDC recommends against use of e-cigarettes.

Click here for more information from the American Heart Association.

Teens and e-Cigarettes/Vaping: Companies Get Richer, While Our Kids Get Sicker

On any given day, you’ll find articles in the media about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. Most of them are saying the same thing: that illnesses, diseases, and deaths connected to the use of such products continue to climb, especially in high schools and on college campuses. This should come as no surprise, because “Juul-ing,” “vaping,” and the like are marketed as cool, sleek, and offer flavored products that tend to appeal to a younger demographic. Not to mention their ability to be disguised from parents and teachers (see subsequent section on “What Is Juul?”).

As a result, courts all over the U.S. are seeing an increase in lawsuits being filed against some of the major companies manufacturing and distributing these products. In October 2019 , e-cigarette company Juul Labs (JUUL) was sued for allegedly deceptive marketing of its products to teenagers. The case was settled, and JUUL was handed specific restrictions on how, where and when it can advertise to teens and adolescents. Recent legislation banned the sale of some — but not all  — flavored vaping products, attributing fruit, mint, and dessert flavors as a source of appeal to younger demographics. Menthol- and tobacco-flavored products were the exception.

Yet the number of teenagers using vape products continues to increase. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS ) from 2019, teen cigarette smoking is at an all-time low, but e-cigarette use is increasing. The NYTS found that 5 million youth report having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, with nearly one million reporting daily use.

Take a look at the numbers from the 2019 report:

Infographic describing the results of the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which surveys middle and high school students focusing on patterns of tobacco use.

What Is JUUL?

As mentioned in the above infographic, JUUL is the most popular e-cigarette brand for teens. JUUL  is shaped like a USB flash drive, enabling the product to be used right under parents’ and teachers’ noses (no pun intended).

The device itself heats a liquid (aka “vape juice”) that is turned into aerosol and subsequently inhaled by the user. Bystanders can also inhale this aerosol when the user exhales it into the air. The liquid contains nicotine, but with JUUL products the nicotine comes in the form of a salt. Nicotine salts allow a higher dosage of nicotine per puff.

What is perhaps most alarming is only one-third of JUUL users aged 15-24 know that JUUL always contains nicotine, and not just harmless “water vapor” according to CDC findings. Moreover, secondhand vapor can be harmful to others.

What Teens Are Saying About Vaping

In October 2019, a survey was conducted at Buffalo High School near Minneapolis, Minnesota (read  . The following are direct quotes from the high school students there about why they vape. We hope these can shed some light as to why vaping has become such a widespread epidemic in this particular demographic:

  • “I didn't want to be left out and miss out on the fun.”
  • “I think it was supposed to be a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. That's, like, not the case anymore.”
  • “Your friends do it, so why would you be that one person who doesn't do it?”
  • “People just assume it's good because you're not blowing smoke out of your mouth, you're blowing vapor.”

Help for Parents on How to Start a Conversation With Their Teenager

From this survey, you can get a sense of how teens feel some peer pressure and influence on their decision to start vaping. Perhaps part of the appeal of vaping is also the forbidden aspect of these devices. With e-cigarette and vaping devices being banned in schools, airplanes, public gathering spaces, and more, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon of creating vaping devices that are disguised as something else, such as hoodie straps, backpacks, smart watches, and phone cases, according to Healthline. The point is that vaping devices can be masked as anything these days, which can appeal to the younger generation.

If you are a concerned parent of a teenager, the first step is usually having an open, non-judgmental conversation about it with him or her. The CDC provides a parent tip sheet on how to broach this topic in ways that keep communication lines open; you can find it here.

While the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is not actively pursuing these cases, we hope you have found this information helpful.

Should you or someone you know need legal guidance in North Carolina:

Please do not hesitate to call us at 1-866-900-7078, or click here to contact us.

Chris Bagley joined the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in 2017 handling consumer law and personal injury cases. Prior to joining the firm, he had a twelve-year career in business journalism and public relations, including two years as a legal-affairs reporter in North Carolina’s Research Triangle region.

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