Federal prosecutors in California have launched a criminal probe into Juul Labs Inc. It is the latest in a string of criminal investigations to hit the e-cigarette start-up. Is this the beginning of a string of vape illness lawsuits? Time will tell.
Juul is currently the most popular e-cigarette-maker in the US. It has found itself at the center of the debate around the safety of vape pens. In recent weeks, scrutiny of the San Francisco company has increased dramatically. Many officials now cite Juul as the driving force behind the explosive growth of vaping among teens.
The California probe comes nearly a month after the Federal Trade Commission announced they are investigating Juul’s marketing practices. The FTC believes Juul may have used social media influencers to appeal to minors.
Vape Illness Lawsuits To Come?
What will this new criminal probe mean for users? The use of e-cigarettes among teens has grown rapidly in recent years. This year nearly 28% of high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. That’s up from 21% the year before. While traditional cigarette use has dropped drastically over the last two decades, e-cigarettes and vape pen use has exploded. Especially among teens.
Juul maintains they do not market their products to teens. Instead, Juul says their vaporizers are for adult smokers looking for tobacco alternatives. However, it has been pretty clear that Juul has made changes to its marketing to reduce their appeal to youth. They no longer operate accounts on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Similarly, marketing images now only feature models who are at least 35-years old. Above all, Juul stopped selling sweet and fruity flavored products in brick-and-mortar stores – but, all these products are still available from Juul’s webstore.
More recently, the Food and Drug Administration announced a more general probe into the e-cigarette industry. The FDA will be looking into any illegal activities conducted by vape-makers. Additionally, the FDA has stated they will not be prosecuting people who use illegal vape products at this time.
“The focus [of the investigation] is on the supply chain,” Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products told The Washington Post.
What Should You Do To Stay Safe?
However, public health officials are encouraging people to avoid black market vape products. Illegal vape juices marijuana ingredients are of particular concern. Anything sourced through illegal means is at risk of contamination. The FDA is “alarmed by reports about products containing THC.” Zeller says.
Legal action against e-cigarettes has started to come about on the state and city level as well. Michigan has banned the sale of all flavored vape products. Lawmakers in New York, Massachusetts, and California are exploring similar options. As a result, the Trump administration also hopes to reduce the availability of flavored e-cigarettes nationwide. Health and human services secretary Alex M. Azar II stated the FDA is working to make that happen.
“We can’t allow people to get sick, but we can’t have our kids be so affected,” Trump told The New York Times. Worried you may have contracted this new illness? Here are eight symptoms of vape-related illness.
These probes come as the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses continues to grow.
In conclusion, as of September 24th, the CDC reports at least 530 confirmed and probable cases of vape-related lung injuries. Sadly, there have also been nine deaths related to e-cigarette use.