Three youths have filed a proposed class action lawsuit over the alleged orchestrated efforts of Juul Labs, Inc. to “addict a new generation of teenagers to nicotine.”
The plaintiffs, who range from 18 to 20 years old, claim they’re among a class of individuals who have developed severe nicotine addictions as the result of Juul’s “wrongful conduct in marketing, promoting, manufacturing, designing, and selling” its popular vaporizer device. The complaint out of California describes the device, commonly called a Juul, as “designed perfectly for teenagers” in that it doesn’t look or smell like a cigarette and is a “sleek, high-tech...device that looks like a USB drive.” Moreover, unlike cigarette smoke, the exhalant from a Juul is undetectable, “easily concealable and can be used practically anywhere without parents or teachers knowing,” the case says. These factors are only part of the Juul’s appeal to young people, the plaintiffs assert, as the device’s popularity is also bolstered by the defendants’ viral marketing campaigns that the lawsuit says aim to make the product appear cool and stylish.
The lawsuit outright alleges Juul Labs designed the Juul vaporizer to addict young people to nicotine, one of the most addictive chemicals in the world. Using “wildly successful” techniques pulled from marketing first deployed by the cigarette industry, Juul, the complaint says, “learned how to manipulate the nicotine in its products to maximize addictiveness, particularly among new users and young people,” as a means to increase sales. The lawsuit alleges that Juul has never disclosed to anyone that its products are unsafe for users under 26 years old.
“Juul designed its products to have maximum inhalability, without any ‘throat hit’ or irritation that would serve as a natural deterrent to new users,” the case adds, claiming the combination of the Juul’s sleek design and ability to deliver substantially higher concentrations of nicotine to users makes the device “powerfully addictive and dangerous.”
The plaintiffs have suffered “life-altering personal injuries” as the result of Juul Labs’ targeting of young people, the lawsuit says. When the plaintiffs first began Juuling, according to the suit, none of the company’s marketing, advertising or promotion of the device disclosed the health effects that have become associated with sharp nicotine ingestion.
“These risks include nicotine addiction, significant increases in blood pressure, vascular damage, increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular injuries, permanent brain changes, mood disorders, heightened risk of cancer and other harms,” the suit states.