Lexington man’s lawsuit says Juul Labs leads users of its devices to become addicted to nicotine; company says suit ‘without merit’

A 25-year-old Lexington man is suing the leading maker of electronic cigarettes, accusing it of deceptive advertising and marketing that leads users become addicted to nicotine. He seeks to expand the suit to a class action including other “similarly situated” Kentucky consumers, including minors, Morgan Eads reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Juul Labs told the newspaper, “This case is without merit and we will defend our mission. Juul Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the world.”

The lawsuit was filed by John McFaull, who says he used dip tobacco in 2018, and started using Juul in an effort to “reduce his nicotine intake,” the suit claims. “He had seen advertising for the product, but he did not realize the actual amount of nicotine that the pods contained,” Eads writes. “Rather than weaning him off of nicotine, the Juul pods made McFaull more addicted, according to the suit.”

Juul said in its statement that their product has never been marketed as a way to stop consuming nicotine. “The Juul system is designed to help adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes to an alternative nicotine delivery system and is not intended to be used as a nicotine cessation product, or for the treatment of nicotine addiction or dependence,” it said. “Switching is not another word for cessation. They mean two very different things.”

“The lawsuit also names Pax Labs, which developed the Juul e-cigarette, as a defendant,” Eads reports. “The lawsuit accuses the company of aiming its marketing at young people with a focus on social media, and advertising that aligns Juul’s products with “social inclusion, sexual attractiveness, thinness, popularity, rebelliousness, and being ‘cool’.”