Juul and Other E-Cigarette Manufacturers Facing Several Lawsuits Due to Allegations of Deceptive Practices

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Juul is facing numerous lawsuits as more records are made public and deceptive practices become more well known to the public. In addition to several school districts and states filing suit against the e-cigarette maker, several class-action lawsuits are in litigation over multiple issues.

In November of 2019, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that the state is joining California and North Carolina in lawsuits against the e-cigarette maker according to the New York Times. The state argues the company is “deceptive and misleading” marketing to children under the age of 18. The allegation is these practices have led to an epidemic of children vaping.

Most recently, in January of 2020, San Diego Unified School District has joined several other school districts claiming Juul deliberately marketed their vaping products to children. The complaint alleges the companies products have disrupted the learning environment and caused absences through vape related illnesses. The school district also claims Juul has cost the district money due to having to reallocate educational funding. This reallocation diverts funds to educational campaigns focused on e-cigarette use prevention and treatment according to CBS News.

In California, a lawsuit was filed in October of 2019 by Siddharth Breja, a former senior vice president of global finance. Breja worked at the San Francisco–based e-cig manufacturer from May of 2018 to March of 2019. Breja is alleging that the company shipped out 1 million tainted mint-flavored refill kits to retailers and failed to notify the public of contamination or issue a recall. He further alleges he was then terminated on March 21, just days after raising concerns about the company’s refusal to issue a notice or recall.

And in yet another blow, the FDA has issued a warning letter alleging Juul illegally marketed its e-cigarettes as less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Juul must now find a way to correct that violation by either correcting statements or providing proof of their claims.

Several companies on the market produce e-cigarettes similar to Juul, in which nicotine is delivered into the system by heating liquid rather than burning tobacco. The common belief is that this delivery method is less dangerous than traditional cigarettes because there are fewer carcinogens in e-cigarettes. However, by law, to market a product as safer than other tobacco products, these companies must demonstrate through scientific studies that their particular products are, in fact, less dangerous. 

In a statement released to the public in September of 2009, Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless stated:

“JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth.”

Dr. Ned Sharpless

In recent years, Juul and other large e-cigarette manufacturers have seen increasing attention towards their products with consumers, doctors, government agencies and others who accuse the industry of deceptive practices. They further allege Juul is marketing to children and making misleading statements regarding the safety of their products. The scrutiny bears a resemblance to the practices of traditional tobacco companies in the past.

In 2019 there was a nationwide panic as an outbreak of lung injuries resulted in 54 deaths and over 2,500 injuries linked to the use of e-cigarette products as of December 2019 according to the New York Times. Many of the cases have links to low quality and mostly unregulated THC products. However, the connection to electronic nicotine delivery systems such as e-cigarettes and other vape products are not being ruled out.

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