Two Kentuckians are suing Juul Labs, the manufacturer of the most popular electronic cigarette, claiming that the company used deceptive marketing practices to attract children. They are part of a consolidated federal case in Northern California with plaintiffs from 26 states. There may be more plaintiffs and more lawsuits.
One of the Kentuckians is a 13-year-old girl from Carrollton who “tried her first e-cigarette in sixth grade and was hooked by the next academic year,” reports
Bailey Loosemore of the Louisville Courier Journal
. “She swears she didn’t know the pods contained strong amounts of nicotine, a chemical that can change the course of growing brains. And though she says she no longer vapes, her parents aren’t sure she’ll ever be able to fully quit.”
The other Kentucky plaintiff is John McFaull, 25, of Lexington. His attorneys include Barbara Bonar of Covington, who told the Courier Journal that she and other attorneys are “working with up to 100 more potential clients who could file their own suits or join others who have already been filed,” Loosemore writes.
“We want to put these companies out of business,” Ronald Johnson, a Fort Wright attorney who represents the 13-year-old, told Loosemore. “After going two decades where fewer and fewer kids smoked to a point where it was almost gone, now we have a new generation addicted to nicotine. … It was marketed as a safe alternative, but really it was a way to get a whole new market for cigarettes. It was so devious.”
Juul issued a statement: “This case is without merit and we will defend our mission. Juul Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world. We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products.”
Loosemore reports, “Bonar and Johnson said most of their clients are teenagers or college students who started vaping in high school. But it’s not uncommon now for kids to pick up the devices even younger. A 2018 survey
by the Kentucky Substance Abuse Prevention Program found that 4.2 percent of sixth graders had tried e-cigarettes, while 14.2% of eighth graders had experimented with the devices.”