Lawsuit In Indiana: Juul E-Cigarettes Are Deliberately Highly Addictive

Sep 2, 2019

FILE - This April 16, 2019, file photo, shows a Juul vape pen.
Credit Craig Mitchelldyer, File, AP Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana family is suing Juul Labs Inc., accusing it of making electronic cigarettes that contain excessively high levels of nicotine without warning that they're addictive.

The McCullough family of Carmel filed the lawsuit Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported. The lawsuit alleges that Juul did not include nicotine warnings on its devices, pods and packaging.

Thomas McCullough said his 17-year-old son has been vaping Juul e-cigarettes since 2015 and that he's addicted. When he tried to quit, the teenager suffered severe headaches and other withdrawal symptoms. The Juul products "altered his brain physically and chemically and ... put him at risk for a lifetime of lifelong health problems, to say nothing of the economic costs of nicotine addiction," the lawsuit says.

Each Juul e-cigarette contains three times more nicotine than is needed to satisfy the nicotine cravings of an adult smoker, the lawsuit states.

Vaping is blamed for a mysterious respiratory illness that has sickened about 200 people in the U.S. and claimed at least one life.

San Francisco-based Juul said its products are a "viable alternative" for the 1 billion adult cigarette smokers around the world.

"We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products," the company said. "Last year, we launched an aggressive action plan to combat underage use as it is antithetical to our mission."

The lawsuit is without merit, Juul officials said.

The McCullough family is seeking unspecified financial damages. Pax Labs Inc., the parent company of Juul until 2017, is also named as a defendant. Pax Labs did not respond to an email from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Juul already faces numerous lawsuits and has long been accused of targeting teenagers with candy-flavored products. Juul's e-cigarettes come in several flavors, including mint, menthol, mango, fruit, creme and cucumber.

In December, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said parents, teachers, health specialists and government officials must take "aggressive steps" to prevent children from using e-cigarettes, adding that they are addictive and can have harmful health effects. He also noted that each Juul cartridge, or pod, contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, and that the company's liquid nicotine mixture is particularly created to provide a smoother, more potent nicotine buzz.

A chief official with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for measures last fall to stop the advertising of e-cigarettes directly to minors.