E-Cigarette: JUUL

  • E-Cigarette JUUL

E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes, popularly known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs, or vape pens, are devices that resemble the practice of common tobacco smoking. The device is electrical in nature and mostly consists of a power source such as a battery, a heating element, an atomizer, a mouthpiece, and a place to hold a liquid such as a cartridge or a tank.

E-cigarettes are classified as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), and most of the versions are reusable. It comes in various designs, and some resemble regular cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens, USB sticks, and other everyday items.

How Does It Work?

The atomizer present in the device transforms the e-liquid, fluid present in the cartridge, into an aerosol, commonly called vapor. It is either activated by taking a puff or pressing a button. The aerosol is inhaled by the users into the lungs, and the bystanders can also breathe it when exhaled. 

The use of an e-cigarette is often termed as "vaping." The aerosol consists of nicotine, an addictive central nervous system (CNS) stimulant found in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products, flavorings, and other chemicals. The composition varies and is influenced by several factors, which also includes user behavior.

Harmful Composition Of Aerosol:

  • Nicotine

  • Cancer-causing chemicals

  • Volatile organic compounds

  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs

  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease

JUUL

JUUL is the most popular e-cigarette in the U.S. manufactured by Juul Labs, Inc., an American electronic cigarette company. The company holds 97 percent of the e-cigarette market, and the rest is covered by Vuse, MarkTen, Blu, and Logic. Around 75 percent of all e-cigarettes sold in the U.S. are manufactured by Juul.

The company entered the market in 2015, and as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each JUUL pod contains a nicotine level of 20 regular cigarettes, which is higher than other e-cigarettes. JUUL is popular among teens and young adults due to its sleek design and nicotine level. Due to its dominance, the term Juuling is also popular among users.

The design of the Juul e-cigarette is similar to a USB flash drive. It is immensely popular among teenagers in the U.S.A. As per a study 9.5% of teenagers aged 15–17 and 11% of young adults aged 18–21 currently use Juul, and that teenagers age 15–17 are 16 times more likely to be Juul users than 25–.34-year-olds. Its high-tech designs and variety of flavours add to its popularity among the youth.

JUUL accounts for over 70% of the US e-cigarette market in the U.S. Its sales increased by 700% in 2016. The company entered the international market in May 2018 by introducing the product to Israel, but later the country's Ministry of Health banned the product citing public health concerns. Later on, the company launched its products in Canada, Russia, South Korea, Ireland, Ukraine and many more countries.

JUUL is heavily marketed on social media via Instagram. The company's marketing strategy is even criticized as it mainly focuses on the youth. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has even asked the company to provide documents about the design and marketing of the Juul, research on the safety of the products, and whether certain features of the device's design appeal to specific age groups.

The FDA sent letters to Juul Labs and the manufacturers to lay out their plans to address widespread youth use of their products among the youth. FDA also sent over 1,300 warning letters to stores that undercover investigators had found to be selling Juul and other e-cigarettes to minors, and issued 131 fines ranging from $279 to $11,182. In response to the FDA's request, JUUL stated that it will look into the concern and take necessary measures. In September 2018, the officials of the FDA made an unannounced inspection at the JUUL headquarters and seized thousands of pages of documents on Juul Labs' marketing practices.

The city of San Francisco passed legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes online as well as offline, and a separate ordinance preventing e-cigarette manufacturers from occupying the city-owned property in June 2019.

Common Side Effects:

  • Coughing

  • Headaches

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dry mouth and throat

  • Mouth and throat irritation

Serious Alleged Injuries may include:

  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Decreased Immunity
  • Increased Risk of Coronary Vascular Disease
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans Organizing Pneumonia (BOOP)
  • Increased or Worsening of Pre-existing Nicotine Addiction
  • E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI)

FDA Safety Warnings:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked all manufacturers of e-cigarettes to apply for approval for the continuation of the product products in the United States until September 9, 2020.

  • April 2018: The FDA started a series of measures to reduce vaping among youths and launched an investigation.

  • November 2018: The FDA announced restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarette vape fluids.

  • August 2019: The FDA notified four companies to remove 44 flavored e-cigarette fluids and hookah tobaccos from sale in the United States.

  • September 9, 2019: The FDA issued a warning letter to Juul Labs for its marketing practices.

  • January 2, 2020: Following the outbreak of e-cigarette lung injury, the FDA announced a ban on almost all flavored vaping cartridges and pods.

Legal Updates:

Defendant:

Juul Labs, Inc.

Defendant Law Firm:

  • Gregory P. Stone, Daniel B. Levin, Bethany W. Kristovich, and John M. Gildersleeve of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.

  • Renee D. Smith and Peter A. Farrell of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Allegations: 

Currently, more than 900 product liability and class action complaints are filed throughout the U.S. District Court system, each claiming that the teens and young adults have been left with nicotine addiction problems from JUUL vaping pods, including false and misleading advertisements.

Plaintiffs' Steering Committee:

  • Rachel Abrams - Levin Simes Abrams

  • Erin Dickinson - Crueger Dickinson

  • Michelle Drake - Berger Montague

  • Jonathan Gdanski - Schlesinger

  • Adam J. Gutride - Gutride Safier LLP

  • Bradley D. Honnold - Goza & Honnold, LLC

  • Emily Jeffcott - Morgan & Morgan

  • Kristine Kraft - Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP

  • Esfand Y. Nafisi - Migliaccio & Rathod LLP

  • Matt Schultz - Levin Papantonio

  • Sabita J. Soneji - Tycko & Zavareei LLP

  • Joseph Vanzandt - Beasley Allen Law Firm 

  • Mikal C. Watts - Watts Guerra LLP

  • Michael M. Weinkowitz - Levin Sedran & Berman LLP

Lawsuit Status: 

JUUL injury lawsuits are being prepared for early bellwether trials, which are expected to begin in early 2022.

MDL Status: 

MDL No.: 2913

(In Re: Juul Labs, Inc. Marketing, Sales Practices & Products Liability Litigation)

On October 2, 2019, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order transferring cases to the Northern District of California for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings before Judge William H. Orrick.

May 2021: As per the new research by the Child Health Evaluative Sciences program at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, vaping among teens and young adults can have worsening health conditions and can increase the risk of asthma or asthma attacks. American Thoracic Society conducted a virtual conference where the study was presented which highlighted the links between e-cigarettes and asthma. The researchers are yet unsure about e-cigarettes causing asthma, but vaping surely worsens asthma over time. Canadian Community Health Survey's data from 2015 to 2016 and 2017-2018 was used by the researchers, which included more than 17,000 people aged 12 and up.

The reports stated that more than 3% of the participants used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days which equals to 1 in 32 people from the survey. It also concluded that people using e-cigarettes even smoked traditional cigarettes.

Some other findings of the research include that 13% of participants had asthma and e-cigarette users have 19% chances of having asthma. The research even stated that existing and former smokers have a 20% and 33% higher risk of having asthma, respectively. The study even stated that the e-cigarette users have poor mental health as compared to the people who do not vape.

April 2021: Judge Ann I. Jones in the Los Angeles Superior Court is also overseeing 422 complaints that are pending in California state court as part of a JCCP. These complaints include more than 2,500 individual plaintiffs claiming nicotine addiction after using JUUL products.

Feb. 2021: Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) trial staff has urged that the commission should not delay the virtual trial slated for April 13 against the tobacco manufacturer Altria's $12.8 billion investment in electronic cigarette company Juul. Juul Labs Inc. and Altria Group Inc are demanding to delay the trial further from the current date of April 13 to mid-July, considering the worsening pandemic outbreak. The FTC's trial staff is opposing both the company's demands by stating that it is unrealistic speculation that holding an in-person trial in mid-July will be safe. FTC's complaint counsel said that the proceedings should begin virtually at the start of mid-April and keep the proceedings virtual.

The staffers informed that although the vaccine news is promising, it is not clear if the chief administrative law judge and his staff, witnesses, and counsel will get the vaccination any soon, making it better to conduct virtual hearings for the case.

The attorneys for the companies argued that the trial should be delayed further, as the masses will not get the vaccine until late June or early July. They even informed that starting virtual hearings will not prevent the health risk, as the attorneys will require to plan accordingly by gathering in-person evidence and prepare witnesses. The attorneys even raised concern over the credibility of the testifying witnesses.

 The Federal Trade Commission is overseeing the case, In the Matter of Altria Group/Juul Labs, file number 191-0075.

Important Verdicts & Settlements: Currently there are no settlements made.

Evidence:

  • Duration of Usage
  • Indication of usage in Medical Records
  • Evidence of injury in follow up medical records

Medical Record Review and claim validation of E-Cigarette: JUUL case should take approximately 3 hours in most instances; however, this approximation may vary in cases based on the volume of records.

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