Juul Labs Inc. is facing new lawsuits in a consolidated California state proceeding over its marketing of its vape products as safe alternatives to regular cigarettes, with attorneys for the plaintiffs saying there are more complaints to come.
Individual plaintiffs allege that Juul misleadingly marketed its e-cigarette products as safe and targeted youths and young adults with aggressive advertising campaigns, failing to tell potential customers that the products are addictive and unsafe.
Each of the individual plaintiffs allege that they began using Juul’s e-cigarettes as adults and have since suffered from nicotine addiction, seizures, heart and lung problems and other ailments as a result of the allegedly defective and unsafe design of the products.
The suits are part of a consolidated proceeding encompassing thousands of claims in California. That proceeding is separate from the federal multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of California over Juul’s marketing and sales practices.
In the suit, the plaintiffs allege that Juul knew that its products were highly addictive — delivering a more potent dose of nicotine than regular cigarettes — but nonetheless marketed them as a safe alternative to smoking.
The advertising campaign used bright colors, stylish models and other techniques to appeal to youths in particular, and enticed people who had never smoked before into trying, and becoming addicted to, Juul’s products.
The flavors on offer also served to entice young consumers, with several based on fruits, candy and desserts, while advertisements seemed to prop up Juul’s e-cigarettes as desserts themselves, with tag lines like “save room for JUUL” and “indulge in dessert without the spoon” for the crème brulee flavors.
The complaints also allege that Juul, Altria Group Inc. — which acquired a 35% stake in Juul for $12.8 billion in December 2018 — and Philip Morris USA Inc., which is also owned by Altria, defrauded the public by hiding the dangers of the vaping products.