The war against Big Tobacco was a pivotal time in our history opening up the floor to take a closer look at the vaping and JUULing industry. For over half a century, countless lawsuits have been filed against tobacco companies involving smokers and their families. However, as the years pass, the lawsuits are evolving to include vape and e-cigarette manufacturers.
The most notable offender would be the e-cigarette manufacturer, JUUL Labs. The creators of JUUL set out to create a product to help people quit smoking but along the way have attracted the attention of non-smoking minors through targeted advertising and fruity flavors. JUUL is currently under fire for deceptive marketing to minors, creating nicotine addiction and aiding in other illnesses. And like the Big Tobacco lawsuits, people are taking notice.
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The facts on beating big tobacco
Once evidence emerged on the correlation of smoking to lung cancer in the 1950s, plaintiffs began suing cigarette manufacturers. Most of these smokers, already suffering from lung cancer, came to the stand with multiple theories:
- Faulty Production – That tobacco companies were failing to produce adequate products.
- Product Liability – That tobacco companies were advertising a product that was unfit for use.
- Negligent Marketing – That tobacco companies failed to warn their consumers about the risk of smoking cigarettes.
- Fraud – That they were sold a product that manufacturers knew would negatively impact their health.
- Violation of Consumer Protection Statutes – That tobacco companies utilized unfair and deceptive business practices.
However, the tobacco industry fought back with a confident rebuttal – taking on each lawsuit individually and refusing to settle out of court. They too had a few strategies of their own, stating that:
- Tobacco was not harmful to smokers
- Other unrelated factors contribute to lung cancer
- Smokers accepted any risk when they decided to smoke
Surprisingly, these lawsuits favored the tobacco industry and a great number of plaintiffs were ultimately defeated.
The Introduction of addiction
In the 1980s, smokers began a new wave of lawsuits that targeted the tobacco industry. The landmark case of the time was Cipollone v. Liggett, where the plaintiff alleged that cigarette manufacturers knowingly concealed the knowledge that smoking caused lung cancer and that cigarettes were addictive. This was the first time that addiction has ever been brought up in a tobacco lawsuit. Around the same time, others came forward with similar suits and were unsuccessful.
In defending themselves, tobacco companies argued that smokers knowingly accepted the risks of cancer and other health problems upon their decision to smoke cigarettes.
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A slow victory
In the 1990s, people were having some level of succeeding against the tobacco industry lawsuits, primarily because internal documents were leaked revealing that manufacturers were aware of the addictive qualities of tobacco.
It wasn’t until November 1998 that the attorney generals of 46 states along with four of the largest tobacco companies agreed to settle these cases. This is now referred to as the Master Settlement Agreement. A few of the key highlights of this agreement are that:
- Tobacco companies refrain from certain advertising tactics, in particular ad campaigns that marketed cigarettes to children.
- Tobacco companies pay annual sums of money to the states involved to compensate for the increase of healthcare costs related to smoking.
- The settlement creates and funds the National Public Education Foundation, dedicated to reducing youth smoking and diseases associated with smoking.
- Tobacco companies dissolve three of the biggest tobacco industry organizations.
The first huge win against Big Tobacco was in February 2020, when Philip Morris was ordered to pay $51.5 million to a California smoker with inoperable lung cancer.
Around the same time, more than 40 states sued tobacco companies under antitrust and consumer protection laws. They stated that their products contributed to a significant increase in health problems that in turn became costly for public health systems. This time, Big Tobacco companies were no longer able to deny that the consumer was aware of the risks – a tactic that worked so well for them in the past.
The People vs. JUUL
Since their inception in 2015, JUUL Labs has quickly become the dominating force in the e-cigarette industry, leading the pack with 70% percent of the nearly $2 billion market. For over a decade, smokers around the globe have been jumping on the e-cig train believing that it’s the “healthier” option compared to cigarettes.
In April 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered JUUL to provide them with documentation to help them understand the rates of youth use and the appeal their product has on minors. They also requested documents on JUUL’s design, safety research, and whether or not certain features were appealing to the younger age groups.
The following month, multiple outlets began coming forward stating that JUULing has become an epidemic in high schools across the nation. The JUUL following was beginning to grow at an alarming rate, with teenagers coming to social media to brag about using the e-cigarette.
Adults began taking notice. JUUL has been under fire ever since for allegedly targeting their marketing efforts to the younger generation. With the growing trend of JUUL cigarettes, was this their intention all along? The investigation is just beginning.
Since the investigation began into the JUUL empire, there have been several measures implemented to keep the product out of the hands of minors, including changing the purchase age to 21, keeping the product off major sites like eBay and Amazon, and their standards for advertising.
How JUUL impacts minors
In addition to nearly double the nicotine and benzoic acid as other e-cigarettes, the consequences on the bodies of underage children are overwhelming. Smoking or vaping early in life kick starts the process of decreasing activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This influences a person’s cognitive behavior, while increasing impulsivity and sensitivity to other drugs. It’s also known to hinder lung development if started during adolescence.
Researchers speculate that JUUL’s high-nicotine pods and marketing have been the culprit in undoing decades of anti-smoking gains. A recent federal survey shows 27.5 percent of high school students have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days – a huge jump compared to last year’s 20.8 percent. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one in nine high school seniors vape daily.
With the growing amount of publicity surrounding vape-related illnesses and death, people are taking a closer look at the consequences of e-smoking. Many states have increased the purchase age from 18 to 21, but there are other changes that are going to take some time. To view an updated list of social changes, click here.
How to file a claim against JUUL
If you believe that you or someone you know is a victim of JUUL products, please reach out to us. We are handling JUUL-related personal injury lawsuits at no cost to you.
What could qualify you to file a claim:
- Addiction – with or without treatment.
- Any person, and especially high school or college students, who have been diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, pneumonia or an eosinophilic pneumonia that required medical treatment including hospitalization. JUUL smokers can quickly develop a significant pneumonia that may require ICU care including mechanical ventilation.
- Any person who has developed COPD or advanced asthma after using JUUL products.
- Any person that has a heart attack (myocardial infarction) after using JUUL products.
- Eligible applicants should have never smoked traditional cigarettes prior to smoking JUUL.
If this sounds like you, please fill out an online claim or call 1-800-222-9657 for a free claim evaluation. A member of our staff will reach out to you to discuss your options. You may be entitled to monetary compensation.
Join the Fight Against JUUL by Partnering with Heninger Garrison Davis
Heninger Garrison Davis is Alabama’s most prolific civil litigation law firm based in Birmingham, AL. We focus on personal injury, business litigation, mass tort, and class action cases. We possess the sophisticated legal skills, financial resources and multi-layered support needed to take on the world’s most powerful corporations. Our team works hard to cut through the complexity, get to the heart of the problem and win what matters the most.