- Standing in front of Daniel Wright Junior High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim announced Tuesday the county is suing San Francisco-based Juul Labs, the country’s largest e-cigarette producer, for allegedly using deceptive marketing campaigns to target teens and is seeking punitive damages for use on programs to help children and teens fight nicotine addictions, the Chicago Tribune reports.
- Earlier marketing campaigns used social media sites popular with teens and promoted fruit and dessert-flavored Juulpods for use in devices that mimic thumb-drives, but Juul Labs denies accusations their products were marketed to underage users. And though it has stopped selling flavored pods, a different company is now selling Juul-compatible flavored pods under the name “Mr. Fog,” which bear the Juul trademark, one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit noted in the article.
- In related news, doctors are seeing an increased number of patients in their teens and early adulthood suffering from severe lung damage related to vaping. These issues seem to be affecting patients after vaping for a relatively short time compared to traditional tobacco use. Doctors also fear long-term consequences from toxic chemicals other than nicotine found in e-cigarettes, according to CBS News.
According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38% of high school students and 13% of middle school children have already tried vaping. As the use of Juul products and e-cigarettes increases, so do the dangers posed to children, teens, and young adults. Though not all vaping involves nicotine, those who use nicotine products face an increased risk of nicotine addiction, despite the fact these products are usually billed as “safer” alternatives.
Some vaping involves the use of marijuana instead. And even products that feature more “innocent” ingredients contain toxic chemicals which are inhaled into young lungs and can cause severe lung damage in some users.
While Lake County is the first county to sue Juul for its part in the rise of vaping among teens, it is not the only entity to do so. North Carolina’s attorney general filed suit against the company earlier this year for its “unfair and deceptive” marketing practices, which have caused an “epidemic” among young users.
Susan Kansagra, a doctor with the North Carolina Department of Public Health, said in another Chicago Tribune article that over a six-year period, there has been a 900% increase in high school students and a 400% increase in middle school students reporting they are using e-cigarettes. "In 2017, about 17% of high schoolers reported using e-cigarettes, and that I'm confident is an underestimate, given the marketing that we've seen," she said.
As schools confront this new health risk, school leaders are seeking new strategies to reduce vaping and e-cigarette use. Many schools are seeing the need to upgrade current nicotine education efforts to include the risks of e-cigarettes and vaping. There are free education programs available, such as “Catch My Breath,” which targets middle and high school students.
Some schools are also increasing penalties for vaping, including suspending and expelling students for vaping. Many schools are educating teachers and parents about the issue, as well.