Beasley Allen lawyers suing JUUL Labs commend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for putting the company’s CEO, Kevin Burns, on notice that the agency is investigating JUUL’s deceptive marketing of its vaping devices and products that specifically targeted children and youth. The FDA warned JUUL that marketing its vaping devices and products as safer than cigarettes and specifically targeting school children, violated the law. Beasley Allen lawyers, Andy Birchfield, who is head of the firm’s Mass Torts Section, along with Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett have filed cases on behalf of individuals who are suffering from severe nicotine addiction and other physical injuries related to the use of JUUL vaping devices.
“We commend the FDA for taking this step in the right direction and putting JUUL Labs on notice that it broke the law with its deceptive marketing practices,” said VanZandt. “JUUL Labs was over the line and everything they did, from designing the product, manipulating the nicotine, and marketing, was targeted at addicting young people to nicotine. JUUL’s actions have intentionally reversed decades of progress in reducing youth tobacco use. JUUL has sparked a new nicotine addiction epidemic that has helped it build a $38 billion empire.”
Citing documents from the agency’s inspection of JUUL Labs in September 2018, as well as testimony from a congressional hearing earlier this summer, and information from JUUL’s website, the FDA “determined that JUUL adulterated its products … by selling or distributing them as modified risk tobacco products without an FDA order in effect that permits such sale or distribution.” The agency said its concern is intensified by the epidemic rate of increase in youth who are using vaping devices, including JUUL’s products.
The letter noted congressional testimony that “revealed JUUL engaged in a wide variety of promotional activities and outreach efforts to persuade potential customers, including youth, to use JUUL products. Witnesses testified, for example, that JUUL advertising saturated social media channels frequented by underage teens and that JUUL used influencers and discount coupons to attract new customers.” Those testifying also described further marketing and outreach efforts geared to schools, which were thinly veiled as a youth vaping prevention program.
Additionally, the FDA is investigating how JUUL designed and manipulated its vaping devices and other products to increase the addictiveness of its products. JUUL claims that each JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, but experts believe the amount of nicotine intake for JUUL may be much higher. JUUL designed its vaping device to deliver substantially higher concentrations of nicotine per puff than traditional cigarettes and most other brands’ vaping devices. Its products are also designed to have maximum inhalability, without any “throat hit” or irritation that would serve as a natural deterrent to new users.
JUUL Labs has been under increased scrutiny over its vaping devices and products since a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping has claimed five lives and a sixth death is under investigation with possible ties to vaping. Further, there are now 450 cases of respiratory illness in 33 states and one U.S. territory.
JUUL Labs has 30 days to respond to the FDA in writing and provide the agency with the requested documents as part of the investigation.