A Massapequa man is pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Juul Labs, Inc., the makers of the infamous Juul e-cigarette. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys for 19-year-old Shawn Hochhauser, cites that the company markets their tobacco-based products to children. The lawsuit was filed not only against Juul Labs, Inc., but also Altria Group and Philip Morris USA, which have a 35 percent ownership in Juul Labs, Inc.
Hochhauser claims that the company used “misleading advertising” in their marketing, which eventually led to adverse health effects for the 19-year-old. The lawsuit claims that the company used imagery and themes in their advertising such as love, happiness and sexuality to promote a positive image for the cigarette alternative. Through the advertising and positioning as a safe alternative to cigarettes, Hochhauser believed they would not have an adverse effect on his health when he began vaping at the age of 15.
“When he began purchasing JUUL e-cigarettes, he believed, based on JUUL’s advertisements and marketing, that these products were safe for use, were safer than conventional cigarettes, and would not cause adverse health effects,” the lawsuit noted.
Hochhauser claimed that he was unaware of the levels of nicotine that were included in Juul pods. With flavors including mango and mint combined with nicotine, Hochhauser unknowingly became addicted to the Juul. Before finding out the dangers of Juul, Hochhauser claimed that he would vape one to two full pods a day. As a result of his addiction, the lawsuit claims that Hochhauser now suffers from a multitude of health issues—including shortness of breath, chest pain, severe coughing, increased phlegm, vocal changes and throat irritation.
The lawsuit aims for “reasonable and adequate compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, financial harm, medical expenses, and disfigurement.”
“JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world,” company spokesman Austin Finan stated. “Our product has always only been intended to be a viable alternative for the one billion current adult smokers in the world. We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products.”
This is not the first lawsuit that Juul has faced. In recent memory, vaping has come under constant media scrutiny for its marketing and adverse health effects on consumers, despite being marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes. This lawsuit is one of nearly 160 lawsuits that have been filed against the vaping behemoth in state and federal courts since last year.
Moreover, vaping has faced such backlash that several states have ended up outlawing the sale of flavored vaping liquids, including New York, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island. The scrutiny even reached the national level when President Donald Trump announced that the federal government intends to ban thousands of flavors of vaping liquids.