Juul, the embattled e-cigarette company, is facing a crossroads. Once the most popular vaping device in the country, Juul’s low sales and constant lawsuits have the company campaigning for its life. As Juul attempts to meet a September deadline with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to continue selling their products in the United States, a number of health organizations plan to stand in their way.
The New York Times (NYT) reports that the “agency is trying to meet a Sept. 9 deadline to decide whether Juul’s devices and nicotine pods have enough public health benefit as a safer alternative for smokers to stay on the market, despite their popularity with young people who never smoked but became addicted to nicotine after using Juul products.”
For those who have experienced health complications and injury from Juul vaping, this is not welcome news. Here in Richmond and across the country, vaping has become an epidemic, with ads targeting young kids and teens, and forcing legislation banning tobacco and e-cigarettes on school campuses across Virginia.
Juul has a hard sell on its hands. On June 28, the company announced a groundbreaking $40 million settlement with the state of North Carolina. Under this agreement, in the state of North Carolina, Juul will:
- Limit the amount of online sales to residents of North Carolina
- Not advertise to anyone under the age of 21 (including on social media)
- Sell only behind the counter at retailers with ID scanners
This settlement is the result of a lawsuit from state Attorney General Josh Stein, alleging the company engaged in deceptive marketing practices that targeted young people to use products that deliver addictive nicotine. In the settlement article referenced above, NPR notes that after Juul’s introduction in 2015, teen use of e-cigarettes and vapes jumped more than 70%, leading the FDA to declare an “epidemic” of underage vaping.
It is also worth noting that by settling with the Attorney General, Juul avoided the potential scores of testimony from parents and children about how Juul’s vaping products have affected their health.
Juul still faces thousands of other injury lawsuits and multi-district litigation.
Juul versus the FDA – what’s at stake
Today, Juul must convince the FDA that their products are safe enough to keep selling. The question at hand, according to the NYT, is to “decide whether Juul’s devices and nicotine pods have enough public health benefit as a safer alternative for smokers to stay on the market.”
A variety of public health organizations are publicly asking the FDA to reject this request – including the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network – citing the popularity and addictive nature of vaping among younger people who never smoked in the first place.
Juul must submit a 125,000-page application to the FDA to prove its case. Although this application has not been made public, the company is pushing the health benefits of its product – hard. In fact, Juul recently funded an entire special issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior devoted to a variety of studies (also funded by Juul) showing evidence that their products can help smokers quit.
The NYT reports that three members of the Journal board resigned over the issue.
Is my teen addicted to e-cigarettes?
Vaping addiction in teens and young people can lead to a serious condition called “vaping lung.” Most kids are completely unaware of the dangers of vaping, and it is important to note any health or behavioral concerns in your child. Some warning signs of e-cigarette and nicotine addiction include:
- Unfamiliar or unrecognizable items. Juul and other e-cigarettes look like small USB drives, pens, or even traditional cigarettes. Typically they have holes in both ends and/or an opening for a pod.
- Smell or fragrance. Although Juul’s fruity and candy flavors have been taken off the market, off-brand e-cigarettes still come in a variety of flavors. These smells do not tend to linger on fabrics but will leave a light scent lingering in the air.
- Behavioral changes or mood swings. The introduction of nicotine can cause emotional changes, like irritability, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, or changes in bowel movements. You may want to ask questions if your child is exhibiting any of these behaviors.
- Changes in thirst or appetite. Another sign of nicotine addiction is decreased appetite and/or weight loss. Further, vaping can cause a condition called “dry mouth,” which can cause increased thirst, or even a desire for more flavorful and spicy foods. This is because the taste buds are suppressed from vape use.
- Coughing or throat issues. A strong indication of new vape use is a sudden and unexplained cough. Juul and e-cigarettes contain a strong amount of nicotine and other components, which can irritate and burn the throat.
Continued use can lead to shortness of breath, nausea, nosebleeds, and even chest pain. Do not overlook these serious health symptoms in your child or teen.
The attorneys at Phelan Petty take vaping injuries very seriously. We are not afraid to take on companies like Juul who prey on our children in order to make profits. If your child is suffering from a nicotine addiction or vaping disease related to e-cigarettes, let us help. We serve Richmond and the surrounding areas. To learn more about how we can help you, please call 804-980-7100, or fill out our contact form.
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Michael Phelan is a Virginia trial attorney who practices with a special focus on traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases, pharmaceutical and medical device claims, product liability cases, and truck accidents. Michael’s peers have consistently recognized him for his excellence as a trial lawyer, and his clients have praised him for his commitment to deep research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication.