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Lawsuits & Litigation

Juul Gets Sued (Again) for Marketing E-Cigarettes to Teens

— August 15, 2019

An Illinois county claims it’ll cost a fortune to undo the damage Juul has wrought.

For the umpteenth time in the past several years, e-cigarette manufacturer Juul is being sued for allegedly employing deceptive marketing practices to hawk its pens and pods to teens.

Filed by the Lake County State Attorney’s Office in Illinois, the suit accuses Juul of violating the Prevention of Tobacco Use by Minors and Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products Act by targeting underage children.

“Just like cigarette companies did in the past, Juul preyed on teens by using advertisements that glamorized their product in order to get kids hooked on nicotine,” said Lake County Attorney General Michael G. Nerheim. “It will take years of education and money to right the wrongs and cover the damages caused by Juul’s marketing campaigns. To that end, the company should be held accountable for the massive expected cost to undo the damage they created.”

Juul, notes CBS News, holds more than 75% of the domestic e-cigarette market. Although vaping advocates say it’s a good way to wean adult addicts off traditional tobacco products, critics have been keen to point out that e-cigarettes are now being supported by Big Tobacco itself. Last August, Phillips Morris—the owner of Marlboro—bought a 35% stake in Juul for nearly $13 billion.

Lake County’s lawsuit notes that, through the 1990s, adolescent smoking rates began to fall. But after Juul came onto the scene with e-cigarettes, rates have begun rising again.

E-cigarette user; image by, CC BY 2.0, no changes made.
E-cigarette user; image by, CC BY 2.0, no changes made.

“Juul sought to fill the void left by big tobacco by creating a new-age electronic cigarette, the ‘Juul,’ that is so addictive it led to the ‘largest ever recorded increase in substance abuse in the past 43 years for any adolescent substance used in the U.S.’ By utilizing new technologies and social media, Juul picked up right where the big tobacco companies left off,” the lawsuit claims.

Juul’s countered the lawsuit claims by arguing that it’s never marketed to youth. Company spokespeople even cited Juul’s departure from social media websites as evidence of its desire to distance itself from young potential users.

“We have no higher priority than to prevent youth usage of our products which is why we have taken aggressive, industry leading actions to combat youth usage,” Juul said in a statement. “We strongly advocate for Tobacco 21 legislation, we stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol flavored Juul pods to our traditional retail store partners, enhanced our online age-verification process and strengthened our retailer compliance program with over 2,200 secret shopper visits per month.”

Nonetheless, CBS notes that Juul devices expose users to far higher concentrations of nicotine than traditional cigarettes.

Along with numerous lawsuits, Juul is also fighting off copy-cat companies in the United States.

To learn more about the dangers associated with Juul, visit ConsumerSafety.


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