Southeast Missouri State University student publication

JUUL faced with class action lawsuit

Sunday, April 9, 2023
Graphic by Kerrigan Foster

With an explosive growth of 1800% in vaping throughout the past five years, the brand JUUL has found itself in a class action lawsuit. According to Tobacco Tactics, JUUL owned more than 80% of the electronic cigarette market in 2018.

As of January 2023, JUUL has been faced with a lawsuit for false advertising claims. According to CNBC, the company advertised their nicotine products in a way that allowed them to seem like a healthy alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes; specifically marketing them towards underage people.

According to Top Class Actions, JUUL agreed to a $225 million class action settlement. A class action settlement occurs when the two parties in a class action lawsuit have decided they no longer want to continue the lawsuit. This settlement attempts to dismiss the claims of false advertising.

Top Class Actions also stated anyone who has purchased a JUUL product before Dec. 7, 2022, is able to receive a settlement of up to $300 with proof of purchase.

SEMO marketing professor Scott Thorne said JUUL positioned themselves in a way to encourage people to stop smoking.

“What actually happened is people in the age ranges of 14 to 20 started adopting JUULs as a way to induce them into the habit instead of stopping them from doing so,” Thorne said.

Thorne said behavior patterns are set by age 20; therefore, vaping companies often target teens.

“[Vaping companies] are not going to get customers from people in their 30s and 40s,” Thorne said. “Instead, they are going to get customers who are exposed to vaping in their teens. They are looking for people to pick up the habit who will hopefully continue the habit long-term.”

JUUL’s marketing has left an impact on students who started vaping the product during their teenage years.

SEMO freshman Cooper Childers said JUULs were a prevalent issue when he was in high school and that didn’t stop at college.

“My school even installed nicotine detectors in our bathrooms, but that didn’t stop anyone,” Childers said. “I continued to see people vape into college. They don’t care where they are. People will even vape on campus.”

According to the CDC, “Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain. The brain continues to develop until the age of 25.”

Respiratory therapy professor Pete Darnell said currently, we do not know nearly enough about vaping since it is a new vice and data has been inconclusive. However, from the data that does exist, lung injury has been seen due to the glycol in vape smoke, causing long-term fibrotic lung changes, Darnell said.

Darnell said the data that exists now shows that vaping could potentially be as bad as smoking traditional nicotine cigarettes.

“The greater the exposure, the greater the risk,” Darnell said. “The nicotine itself is potentially dangerous in its effect on the body– no differently than cigarettes because it is a big time stimulant.”

Darnell said he remembers when vaping was originally pushed as a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes.

“Vaping was used as a transition away from smoking. Then, I didn’t notice much success because patients would tell me it didn’t taste the same because they were addicted to other chemicals besides the nicotine in cigarettes. Now, we steer back to the traditional ‘stop smoking,’” Darnell said.

If you or someone you know bought products from JUUL from 2019 to 2022, the deadline to send in a valid claim form to receive a settlement is July 14, 2023. The final hearing will occur Aug. 9, 2023. For more information on eligibility, refer to Top Class Actions.