FDA warns JUUL Labs for misleading e-Cigarette Marketing

(Sept. 11, 2019) The FDA warned JUUL Labs this week for misleading young people with aggressive e-Cigarette marketing campaigns. The FDA warning – announced Sept. 9, 2019 – included the agency’s objections to JUUL’s claims that its products lower or modify the risk of nicotine-loaded tobacco products. The agency also voiced its objections to JUUL’s youth-outreach programs, under the banner of which JUUL promoted e-cigarettes to adolescents herded into JUUL-run classrooms at the behest of the company. The dubious claims JUUL made to captured underage audiences in the schools were never approved by the FDA. Hence the warning.

The FDA requested with the warning that JUUL provide the agency with more information regarding several issues that include the company’s outreach and marketing practices.

FDA Warning to JUUL

“Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to JUUL Labs Inc. for marketing unauthorized modified risk tobacco products by engaging in labeling, advertising, and/or other activities directed to consumers, including a presentation given to youth at a school. The agency also sent a letter to the company expressing concern, and requesting more information, about several issues raised in a recent Congressional hearing regarding JUUL’s outreach and marketing practices, including those targeted at students, tribes, health insurers and employers. These letters are the latest (development) in the FDA’s ongoing investigation related to JUUL.”

Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D., added:

“[B]efore marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful. JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth. In addition, we’re troubled about several issues related to JUUL’s outreach and marketing practices that came to light in a recent Congressional hearing.”

Dr. Sharpless said the agency will continue to “scrutinize tobacco product marketing” and act to ensure the public is not misled into believing a certain product has been proven less risky or less harmful when it has not been proven so. “We’ve also put the industry on notice,” he said.  “If the disturbing rise in youth e-cigarette use continues, especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we’ll take even more aggressive action.”

Modified Risk Tobacco Products?

The main issue is that JUUL has marketed its e-cigarettes as “modified risk tobacco products” without an appropriate FDA order in effect to represent them as such. The violation occurred because JUUL marketed a product to lead consumers to believe several things which are unproven.  JUUL illegally claimed in its marketing that its e-cigarettes:

1) present a lower risk of tobacco-related disease or are less harmful than one or more other commercially marketed tobacco products;

2) contain a reduced level of a substance or present a reduced exposure to a substance; and/or

3) do not contain or are free of a substance or substances.

The FDA warning letter identifies several statements (discussed) in testimony from a July 2019 Congressional hearing. According to that testimony, a JUUL representative speaking with students at a school presentation erroneously claimed:

  • JUUL “was much safer than cigarettes” and that “FDA would approve it any day.”
  • JUUL was “totally safe.”
  • A student “…should mention JUUL to his [nicotine-addicted] friend…because that’s a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes, and it would be better for the kid to use.”
  • “FDA was about to come out and say it [JUUL] was 99% safer than cigarettes…and that…would happen very soon….”

Parent’s Complaint to JUUL Heard

The FDA warning to JUUL also included a letter from JUUL’s CEO that appeared on the company’s website and also in an email JUUL sent to a parent who complained that JUUL sold its products to her child. The CEO’s letter states: “[JUUL’s] simple and convenient system incorporates temperature regulation to heat nicotine liquid and deliver smokers the satisfaction that they want without the combustion and the harm associated with it.”

450 e-Cigarette Injuries, Six (6) Deaths

E-cigarettes have come under fire this summer (no pun intended) as hundreds of otherwise healthy, mostly young people who used the devices have struggled to breathe and were hospitalized. A respiratory illness from the products has mystified public health officials who continue to investigate by testing products and patient specimens. As of late last week, 450 cases were reported across the country, according to the CDC. Six of those patients have died. All that’s known about the victims is the state where they lived and their age – all were at least 18.

FDA warns JUUL Labs for misleading e-Cigarette Marketing

One JUUL pod delivers as much nicotine as 30 to 40 cigarettes. Users quickly find themselves physically addicted and suffering from a range of side effects that include seizures, lung and respiratory problems, strokes, heart disease and other potentially long-term health-related complications. We still don’t know the scope of lasting damage caused by high-dosage delivery of nicotine on still-developing brains. We don know that attorneys are beginning to file JUUL E-Cigarette Lawsuits against the company.

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Monsanto-paid Scientists lied about Financial Ties

(Sept. 6, 2019) Monsanto-paid scientists who published papers supporting Monsanto and attacking the IARC lied about their financial ties to the company. Court documents show that several of the dishonest scientists were among 16 people who signed their names to several published papers which supported Monsanto and attacked the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The occasion for the attack was the IARC’s declaring Monsanto’s glyphosate a probable carcinogen in March 2015.

Editor refuses to retract papers

The ethics-challenged editor who green-lighted the fraudulent papers (Roger McClellan) has refused to retract them. The editor claims that, were his publication to come clean and retract the papers published under the false pretense of being free of Monsanto involvement or influence, he might hurt reputations and negatively affect Monsanto’s interests in the Roundup litigation.

Secret Monsanto Minions

The secret Monsanto minions used their names and reputations in an effort to discredit the IARC after it announced in March 2015 that glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup were probably carcinogenic to people. Monsanto commissioned the so-called “scientists” specifically for the purpose of trying to make the IARC look self-serving and untrustworthy. The fallout has turned the tables and shown the truth:  Monsanto is a malignancy which is completely self-serving and untrustworthy.

Monsanto’s whole black operation to deceive the public came to light following legal discovery in one of the Roundup cancer lawsuits filed against Monsanto, which is now owned by the German chemical giant Bayer AG.

Monsanto used the power of its deep pockets to secretly influence a set of papers published in the scientific journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology.  The secret exercise of industry power was so unethical that the publisher investigated it. Those findings determined that least three of the papers should be retracted. The U.S. Right to Know web site reports that the entire Monsanto subterfuge is in evidence, according to a series of internal journal communications. The episode also implicates the editor, Roger McClellan, who still refuses to retract the papers, which declared there were no cancer concerns with Monsanto herbicides like Roundup. Emails revealed through FOIA requests show that the editor claimed a retraction could have impacted last summer’s first Roundup trial – which despite the lies resulted in a $289 million verdict – and harmed the authors’ reputations.

Lawyers representing several thousand people suing Monsanto over Roundup found the journal communications through discovery. Three trials have seen all three juries render huge punitive damages against Monsanto. All the juries sided with the plaintiffs who argued that Roundup was carcinogenic, and that Monsanto knew it was and covered up the damning evidence.

The emails show a major scientific publishing house wrestling for its soul as the editor and other employees fight over whether they should come clean on the Monsanto deception. The editor and others discuss how they should confront the problem of rank dishonesty in the published papers.

The emails were obtained as part of a deposition of Roger McClellan, the longtime editor in chief of the peer-reviewed journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology (CRT.)

Monsanto-paid Scientists lied about Financial Ties

US Right to Knows explains that CRT published the papers in question in September 2016 as an “Independent Review” of the carcinogenic potential of the weed-killing agent glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide and other brands. The five papers published as part of the review directly contradicted the findings of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. In 2015, the IARC found glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen. The 16 authors of the papers concluded that the weight of evidence showed the weed killer was unlikely to pose any carcinogenic risk to people.

The authors stated in the publication that their conclusions were free of Monsanto’s intervention. Emphatic language trumpeted their lie. The paper’s legend included this whopper: “Neither any Monsanto company employees nor any attorneys reviewed any of the Expert Panel’s manuscripts prior to submission to the journal.”

A Blatant Lie – $27,400 for starters

In the fall of 2017, that statement was proven to be a blatant lie. Internal Monsanto records showed extensive involvement by Monsanto scientists in the drafting and editing of the papers. Records also showed that Monsanto helped choose the authors. Internal records also showed direct payments to at least two of the so-called “independent” authors. Monsanto had a contract with author Larry Kier, for just one example, paying him $27,400 for his work on the papers.

In response to those revelations and questions from media outlets, CRT publisher  Taylor & Francis Group  launched an investigation in the fall of 2017. The newly released communications reveal that after months questioning the papers’ authors, a team of legal and ethics experts put together by Taylor & Francis concluded the authors had hidden Monsanto’s direct involvement in the papers, and had done so knowingly. The emails show some of the authors did not even fully disclose Monsanto involvement in initial questioning by Taylor & Francis during the investigation.

US Right to Know reports that the papers published under the fraudulent cover of “independent” scientists were never retracted. In September of 2018 they were only “updated” to carry an “Expression of Concern” and updates to the acknowledgements and declaration of interests. But despite Monsanto’s involvement, the papers are still titled with the word “independent,”  which we now know is blatant fraud.

The “update” might have added that the papers’ publication was “independent” of the truth of the matter, another clear example of how Monsanto money can make wrong right, black white, lies truth.

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EPA vs. IARC fight proves EPA captured

(Sept. 4, 2019) Roundup lawsuits have uncovered internal Monsanto emails which have outed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an industry-captured entity. The EPA vs. IARC fight proves the EPA is captured by industry. A close look at the controversy shows without a doubt that Monsanto and the biotech industry have captured the agency charged with regulating pesticides like Roundup and other poisons.

Internal Monsanto emails which plaintiffs demanded in Roundup lawsuit discovery have shown the world just how Monsanto has cultivated and exploited a cozy relationship with U.S. pesticide regulators at the EPA. The emails have shown how one scientist on the EPA payroll worked secretly with Monsanto to quash a pesticide review of glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling poison, Roundup.

Related: Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit Attorney

In some of the three Roundup trials, all of which Monsanto has lost, Monsanto lawyers have been able to keep some evidence of the cozy EPA-Monsanto relationship out of the eyes of the jury. But Monsanto lawyers have not always been able to hide all the relevant relationship evidence through sly procedural moves. The three huge jury verdicts rendered against Monsanto for Roundup since last summer are, at least in part, a result of some juries being shown evidence which proves that the U.S. EPA has not been an objective arbiter of facts where Monsanto is concerned. In point of fact, the EPA has been shown – through the publication of irrefutable evidence in The Monsanto Papers – to be working more as a partner with the biochemical industry, rather than as a pesticide (Read: poison) watchdog for U.S. citizens.

Dr. Charles Benbrook explains

Dr. Charles Benbrookwho testified for the plaintiff in the first Monsanto Roundup trial last summer – explains in a Jan. 2019 paper just how the IARC and the EPA arrived at two diametrically opposed views regarding the cancer-causing propensities of glyphosate and Roundup.

Note: Dr. Benbrook’s web site says he has a PhD in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin, an undergraduate degree from Harvard. He is a visiting scholar in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, and a visiting professor at the University of Newcastle in the U.K.

No Evidence vs. Strong Evidence?

Dr. Benbrook explains that the EPA considers glyphosate as “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” By contrast, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A).” EPA claims that no convincing evidence shows that “glyphosate induces mutations in vivo via the oral route.” IARC concludes that “strong evidence” shows exposure to glyphosate is genotoxic through at least two mechanisms known to be associated with human carcinogens — DNA damage and oxidative stress.

Dr. Benbrook asks, “Why and how did EPA and IARC reach such different conclusions?”

EPA Method and Results

The EPA cited 52 genotoxicity assays done by “registrants” (Monsanto and its biochem industry friends) in its 2016 evaluation of technical glyphosate. (“Technical” meaning only that glyphosate alone was studied, not one of the relevant formulations such as “Roundup”  in which it is always mixed.) The EPA also cited 52 assays that had appeared in the public literature.  Dr. Benbrook says, “Of these, one regulatory assay (2%) and 35 published assays (67%) reported positive evidence of a genotoxic response. In the case of formulated, glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs – or glyphosate mixed into a common pesticide), 43 regulatory assays were cited by EPA, plus 65 assays published in peer-reviewed journals. Of these, none of the regulatory, and 49 published assays (75%) reported evidence of a genotoxic response following exposure to a GBH.

IARC Method and Results

IARC, by contrast, considered a total of 118 genotoxicity assays in six core tables on glyphosate technical (again, alone), GBHs, and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), glyphosate’s primary metabolite. EPA’s analysis encompassed 51 of these 118 assays (43%). In addition, IARC analyzed another 81 assays exploring other possible genotoxic mechanisms (mostly related to sex hormones and oxidative stress), of which 62 (77%) reported positive results. IARC placed considerable weight on three positive GBH studies in exposed human populations, whereas EPA placed little or no weight on them.

Three Primary Conclusions

Dr. Benbrook says that EPA and IARC reached diametrically opposed conclusions on glyphosate genotoxicity for three main reasons:

(1) in the core tables compiled by EPA and IARC, the EPA relied mostly on registrant-commissioned, unpublished regulatory studies, 99% of which were negative, while IARC relied mostly on peer-reviewed studies (emphasis added) of which 70% were positive (83 of 118);

(2) EPA’s evaluation was largely based on data from studies on technical glyphosate, whereas IARC’s review placed heavy weight on the results of formulated GBH and AMPA assay (emphasis added). This means EPA studied glyphosate alone, without the surfactants (some of which have been banned in Europe) and other ingredients, which virtually all experts agree make any formulation much more toxic, perhaps as much as 1,000x more toxic.

(3) EPA’s evaluation was focused on typical, general population dietary exposures assuming legal, food-crop uses, and did not take into account, nor address generally higher occupational exposures and risks. IARC’s assessment encompassed data from typical dietary, occupational, and elevated exposure scenarios. More research is needed on real-world exposures to the chemicals within formulated GBHs and the biological fate and consequences of such exposures.

EPA vs. IARC fight proves EPA captured

In a word, the U.S. EPA leaned heavily on Monsanto-funded studies and others sponsored by the biochemical industry to make its determination. And most of those studies were perverted or truncated by their mostly useless focus on glyphosate alone. Glyphosate is virtually never applied alone, by itself, in a vacuum, without being mixed with dangerous surfactants and other substances hidden by laws which protect a corporation’s “proprietary” interests.

By contrast, the IARC relied primarily on published, non-industry funded studies. The IARC also gave studies more weight if they focused on the entire chemical cocktail concoction of products like Roundup (or some other Glyphosate-Based-Herbicide), rather than on glyphosate alone. That approach just makes sense, period. Why, like Monsanto did, test a product that is virtually never used alone? That makes no sense.

The relevant facts, testing the GBHs used in real-world situations, rather than testing isolated glyphosate (technical) as Monsanto and its minions preferred to do, make the EPA’s rubber-stamping of glyphosate not only borderline criminal – given the now ubiquitous poisoning of so much of the living earth by glyphosate – but also completely irrelevant.

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Republicans help Monsanto

Republicans have, for several years, waged a war against the International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC is the World Health Organization’s cancer research division which declared glyphosate (in Monsanto’s Roundup) a probable carcinogen in 2015. Now, according to freshly-released documents in a report by Lee Fang for The Intercept, Republicans’ anti-IARC campaign was prompted, pushed, and aided and abetted by Monsanto’s attorneys and lobbyists.

Related: Monsanto Manipulation Machine Bayered

Lee Fang reports that documents ranging from e-mails to deposition transcripts have been made public by the law firm that represents Dewayne Johnson. He is the cancer patient and former groundskeeper who won the first Roundup lawsuit trial last August in California. A jury awarded Mr. Johnson $289 million (later reduced to $78 million).

Editor’s Note: Some democrats have also helped Monsanto. Hillary Clinton has been called the queen of Monsanto, and Barack Obama firmly backed the biotech bully from Missouri.

Republicans attack IARC, NIH for Monsanto

Mr. Fang reports that company e-mails, documents and deposition transcripts show  “Monsanto lawyers and lobbyists guided lawmakers, coordinating efforts to question the IARC’s credibility and slash U.S. support for the international body.”

In June 2015, Monsanto’s vice president of government affairs – Michael Dykes – outlined Monsanto’s plans to discredit the IARC. Mr. Dykes emailed that he had sent teams of lobbyists to talk to “key staff” at the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the State Department, and members of Congress. Monsanto executed the plan three months after the IARC had first declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen, in March 2015. At the same time, Mr. Dykes also updated his Monsanto colleagues with additional ways the company could discredit the IARC. That plan included Monsanto interests taking control of a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing where senators would ask the EPA about glyphosate’s safety.

“We will make sure Committee members ask EPA the glyphosate safety question,” wrote Dykes, who was well aware the EPA sat firmly in Monsanto’s pocket. (See: EPA Monsanto ties cancerous)

Monsanto ghostwrites for a Republican Rep.

According to Mr. Fang,  FTI Government Affairs was one of the consulting firms that has helped Monsanto discredit the IARC. FTI ghost-wrote a letter in 2016 that was attributed to Republican Rep. Rob Aderholt of Alabama.  The letter written in Mr. Aderholt’s name insisted glyphosate “does not cause cancer. ” It charged that the IARC was promoting “bunk science.”  Mr. Aderholt’s name was on that letter, but it was written by FTI lobbyists.

That misrepresented letter, says Mr. Fang, was followed by other letters from Republican Congress members demanding an investigation of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for IARC. Republicans who wrote those letters – or perhaps only signed their names as Mr. Aderholt did – included Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (who chaired the House Oversight Committee), South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy (who succeeded Chaffetz as House Oversight chair), and Texas Rep. Lamar Smith (who chaired the House Science Committee). All of them echoed Monsanto’s on-point inquiries into IARC funding and the IARC’s designation of glyphosate as a carcinogen.

Kill the Messenger

In 2018, according to Mr. Fang’s report, Rep. Smith sent letters to cancer researchers in Norway demanding that they “correct the flaws in IARC.” Republicans further aided Monsanto when the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee cut $2 million in IARC funding.

Monsanto-Supreme Court Connection

Republican support for Monsanto extends all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, to former Monsanto lawyer Clarence Thomas.  High court justices are supposed to recuse themselves when even the suggestion of a  conflict of interest is evident. “Justice” Thomas has twice refused to recuse himself when Monsanto cases have come before the nation’s highest court. He has also voted along Republican or corporate-controlled party lines in virtually every case he has seen in all of his 28 years on the bench.

Monsanto-EPA Connections

Monsanto has also been caught in bed with the U.S. EPA in the Roundup Lawsuit litigation. The Monsanto Papers have shown just how friendly the relationship has been between regulator and  regulated.  It is an especially important relationship on which to shine the light of truth, because Monsanto lawyers point again and again to the U.S. EPA’s refusal to look at the science behind Roundup and glyphosate – all the considerable science which has not been paid for by Monsanto. Rather than look at independent studies as the IARC did to determine glyphosate’s carcinogenicity, EPA continues to look primarily at studies bought and paid for by Monsanto.  The agency initially recognized glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential back in the 1970s when Roundup was first introduced.  The EPA then blew the whistle on the toxic poison, but then inexplicably altered its position years later and allowed it on the market.

Republicans help Monsanto

The EPA-Monsanto Collusion story should come out more fully in the next Roundup lawsuit trial, which is scheduled to begin this fall in Monsanto’s home town of St. Louis. The monster from the midway has lost all three of the Roundup trials held thus far, as more and more of the world is waking up to the horrendous damage Monsanto has done to our food and environment.

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Juul must face e-cigarette lawsuit filing

(August 26, 2019) – Juul must face an e-cigarette lawsuit filing, a California federal judge ruled on August 23. The company can trim some claims in a proposed class action lawsuit that alleges Juul deceptively advertised the nicotine content in its e-cigarette products. The company cannot, however, escape all the litigation, the judge ruled. Juul also cannot keep the legal claims out of the public eye, behind closed doors in arbitration.

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick ruled that a group of 13 e-cigarette users in seven states, including three minors, can move forward with the majority of their claims that Juul Labs Inc. deceptively advertised the amount of nicotine in its e-cigarette product.

Two Claims Dismissed

The judge did dismiss two claims without leave for complaint amendment. The plaintiffs’ negligence per se claim was tossed, based on a lack of Juul’s failure to obtain licenses to sell its products in certain states. He ruled the class failed to identify a standard of care contained in any of the state licensing statutes which they cited in the lawsuit petition.

The judge also tossed the plaintiffs’ breach of express warranty claim, finding that Juul’s one-year warranty covers only defects in materials and workmanship related to the e-cigarette device. He ruled the warranty doesn’t cover the pod that contains nicotine.

High Nicotine Content not divulged

The class claims in its lawsuit that Juul’s e-cigarettes contain 20% more nicotine than the product labeling claims. This false advertising and labeling, they say, influenced them to buy and use the products in the hopes of quitting smoking. In reality, the products actually gave them more nicotine than if they had continued smoking traditional cigarettes.

Judge Orrick rejected Juul’s argument that the plaintiffs have attempted to reallege preempted labeling claims in breach of his prior order in October, which dismissed some of the class’ previous warning label claims.

Claims Based on Advertisements are alive

The judge denied Juul’s motion to strike allegations related to its point-of-sale displays. He found the plaintiffs’ consumer protection claims were not based on labeling, but on advertisements. He said his prior order held that claims based on advertisements were not preempted.

Judge Orrick cited the case of Fontem US Inc. when he wrote his opinion:  “Other courts have considered arguments similar to Juul’s concerning POS displays and concluded that POS displays do not constitute labeling because they are ‘not attached to the immediate container of a product and will not accompany the product during the period of use.’”

The judge also denied Juul’s motion as to the plaintiff’s claim of misrepresentation about the amount of nicotine in the e-cigarettes. He rejected Juul’s argument that the class hadn’t plausibly alleged their claim. Juul argued that because nicotine risks are well known, Juul has no duty to warn beyond U.S. FDA labeling requirements and California’s Prop 65 requirement.

The judge, however, found the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged a claim regarding Juul’s claim that one pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

Twice the Nicotine of a Cigarette Pack

The judge wrote: “Although the dangers of nicotine are known to the community, it would go too far to say that Juul need not warn consumers that using Juul’s product will cause their bodies to absorb twice as much nicotine as they would from a pack of cigarettes.”

False Advertising, Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, other Claims. . .

The judge also allowed the plaintiffs to move forward with their false advertising, fraud, unjust enrichment, design defect, manufacturing defect, negligent marketing, breach of implied warranty, and deceptive trade practices’ claims.

No Binding Arbitration

Judge Orrick also denied Juul’s motion to compel arbitration against five of the plaintiffs. He found that because the plaintiffs did not have actual notice of an arbitration provision included in the terms and conditions of Juul’s website when they created or logged into their accounts, they are not bound by the provision.

HiddenTerms & Conditions

The plaintiffs pointed out that the hyperlink to read Juul’s terms and conditions is inconspicuous and wasn’t a different color, underlined, italicized, or made visually distinct in any other way from the surrounding text.

Judge Orrick agreed, calling the hyperlink “wholly indistinguishable” from the text. He wrote: “Users cannot be reasonably expected to click on every word of the sentence in case one of them is actually a link.”

Juul also faces a proposed class action in Florida federal court which claims the company tailors its advertising to appeal to minors and hides the high amounts of nicotine that users get from Juul products. Juul is also one of several e-cigarette makers to receive an ultimatum from the FDA to propose solutions to the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use within 60 days.

Juul Response

Juul told Law360 it was pleased Judge Orrick partially granted its motion. Juul said it isn’t allowed to present any evidence at this stage and that the court is obligated to treat the plaintiffs’ allegations as true. Juul also said it “respectfully disagrees” with the judge’s ruling on its motion to compel arbitration and said it is considering whether to appeal that issue.

Juul must face e-cigarette lawsuit filing

The case is Colgate et al. v. Juul Labs Inc., case number 3:18-cv-02499, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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Two Pittsburgh Priests named in Catholic Church Lawsuit

(August 20, 2019) Matthews & Associates Law Firm filed a lawsuit this week for a Pittsburg man who charges that he was abused by two different Catholic priests in the 1970s. The alleged abuse began when the man was 12 years old. The petitioner also filed a police report last week on the abuse with the Ohio Township Police Department in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. The abuse, he said, occurred at Holy Family Institute in Emsworth. The petition names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburg and Holy Family Institute as defendants.

Related: Church spent $10 Million to Fight Sex Victims’ Rights

The Pittsburgh man, now 54, claims both Father Joseph Gerdes and Father Larry Smith sexually assaulted him on multiple occasions in the 1970s. The victim was living at the Holy Family Institute at the time of the alleged assault.

The petition demands a jury trial. It also calls for punitive damages, given the church’s alleged culpability in the crimes perpetrated against the plaintiff. Causes of action against the church and holy Family include civil conspiracy, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report
The trigger for the victim’s coming forward now was the renewed local and national attention given to Catholic priest sex abuse cases last summer. On August 14, 2018, after a two-year investigation, a Pennsylvania grand jury revealed that at least 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children in their charge. That abuse took place over several decades. The grand jury also acknowledged that their review had only scratched the surface of the actual number of those abused by trusted elders who represented the church. Sadly, many victims, likely thousands of them — given what we know of these secret, insidious crimes — continue to suffer in silence.

End Suffering in Silence
In naming the plaintiff’s abusers, said attorney David Matthews, the petition also seeks to help any others abused by these men to summon the courage to come forward, tell their own stories, and demand justice from the church .

The petition claims these facts:
“In the 1970’s, when Plaintiff, a ward of the state, was approximately 12 years old, he was sent to live at Holy Family Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Soon after Plaintiff arrived, he was asked to and became an altar boy and was introduced to Fr. Gerdes. Fr. Gerdes lived in the same quarters as Plaintiff, and Plaintiff was required to clean Fr. Gerdes’s loft as part of his service to the Institute. Shortly after Plaintiff began his duties as an altar boy, Fr. Gerdes took Plaintiff into his brown Mercedes. While in the car, Fr. Gerdes groped Plaintiffs genitals and forced Plaintiff to perform oral sex on Fr. Gerdes. Fr. Gerdes took Plaintiff from the car to his loft where he continued the sexually assault, attempting to anally penetrate Plaintiff.”

The petition further states that the plaintiff was still required to clean Fr. Gerdes’s loft, and was again forced to perform oral sex on Fr. Gerdes. The clergyman also attempted again to anally penetrate the plaintiff, failed, and then performed oral sex on the child. The instances of abuse occurred more than ten times.

Father: Abuse was “what God wanted” and “How it was supposed to be”
The young plaintiff was told by Fr. Gerdes that this deviant behavior was “how it was supposed to be.” The plaintiff said that Fr. Gerdes told him the abuse was “what God wanted,” and that “no one would believe him even if he did tell.”

Based on the beliefs instilled in him by the Church, as well as by Fr. Gerdes’ direct statements to him, the young plaintiff believed that his immortal soul would be condemned should he reveal Fr. Gerdes’ ongoing sexual assaults.

Child Prostitution
The plaintiff said that Fr. Gerdes would typically give him money following the abuse, which he would then use to buy candy.

Priest Partners in Crime – Frs. Smith and Gerdes
Fr. Gerdes also introduced the plaintiff to Fr. Larry Smith, a visiting priest at Holy Family Institute. Fr. Smith visited the Institute several times. At first, Fr. Smith would touch the plaintiff “playfully,” a term the plaintiff used to mask the inappropriate groping he thought normal at the time, given his grooming by Fr. Gerdes. Then Fr. Smith’s “touching” escalated quickly to sexual groping and forced oral sex on the 12 year old. Fr. Smith also forced the child to perform oral sex on Fr. Smith.

These deviant acts occurred during Fr. Smith’s different visits to the Institute.

The petition reads: “Due to Plaintiffs forced and inappropriate relationship with Father Gerdes, he believed this to be the norm. According to a transmittal received by Plaintiff, Fr. Smith is retired, but still has his faculties with the Diocese.

These are just the instances of abuse that Plaintiff recalls at this time and merely
summarize the torture that Plaintiff experienced at the hands of Perpetrators. Further, the whereabouts of these priests are unknown. Due to the secrecy of Defendants, and its agents and institutions. Plaintiff is without proper means to determine where his abusers are or if they have harmed others.”

Two Pittsburg Priests named in Catholic Church Lawsuit

The petition also demands that the church open up its secret books in order to determine what church officials knew about the abuse and when they knew it. The Pennsylvania grand jury report showed again and again that Catholic church officials not only routinely failed to report the crime of child molestation to the proper authorities, but also failed to remove the offending priests from service, often shuttling them off to another parish where they were able to abuse other children.

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Juul Marketing hooks Kids on Nicotine

(August 9, 2019) Under the guise of helping youngsters avoid the hazards of real cigarettes, Juul marketing hooks kids on nicotine. Under a duplicitous, years-long program, the company hooks youngsters on the highly-addictive chemical drug, while it pretends to be performing a public service. Ostensibly, Juul poses as a company that wants to help everyone quit smoking real cigarettes.

Related: Juul sued for creating public health crisis

Juul Problems Grow

One problem now for Juul is that large numbers of those people targeted for smoking “correction” never smoked anything at all, or at least never had a nicotine addiction problem before Juul targeted them.

(Juul Instagram Post 2015)

Juul’s marketing campaigns have been enormously successful in making Juul products appear innocuous to the underage user. As a result of that deceptive advertising, some young people have suffered strokes, lung infections, and other serious injuries after using Juul’s e-cigarettes. Now Juul faces lawsuits from people injured by its products.

Juul Marketed Directly to Underage Users

According to a U.S. House subcommittee that met last month in Washington D.C., Juul deployed a “sophisticated program” that deliberately targeted children and teenagers at schools, summer camps, and public programs. Juul did so in a clear attempt to sell e-cigarettes, according to the subcommittee.

Juul allegedly bought access to children as young as eight, by paying schools and other public programs for an opportunity to present Juul messaging, according to the findings of the Subcommittee on Economy and Consumer Policy.

A Healthy Lifestyle Plan?

Juul even paid $134,000 to one Baltimore-based charter school to set up a five-week summer camp for 80 children in grades 3 through 12. Juul sought to provide a so-called “holistic health education program” that would engage low-income students at risk of making poor health decisions by helping them develop a personal “healthy lifestyle plan.”

Those findings are based on roughly 55,000 documents Juul provided to the subcommittee and the Massachusettes Attorney General. They are detailed in a memo released on the second day of the public hearings last month.

According to the subcommittee, Juul operated a “Youth Prevention and Education program” that paid schools at least $10,000 to access students during school hours, summer classes, or special Saturday programs. The Saturday program was ostensibly designed as a disciplinary alternative for students caught vaping at school.

Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes

Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes testified to congress that Juul representatives showed children how to use an e-cigarette, and also told the children the product was “totally safe.” Emails released by the subcommittee indicate Juul administrators worried about how such programming would appear. Some Juul employees cautiously noted that Big Tobacco once sent similar “youth education” teams to so-called “health fairs.”

• Related: 22-year-old Stroke Victim sues Juul

JUUL Lawsuits Filed

At least four lawsuits were filed against Juul last year by parents, underage users, and others. The suits include allegations that Juul deceptively marketed its product as safe, and targeted underage people and nonsmokers. The lawsuits also claim that Juul is as addictive, or even more addictive, than regular cigarettes. The petitions also allege that Juul’s nicotine salt formula enables higher nicotine absorption into the body than traditional cigarettes or other e-cigarettes containing nicotine liquid.

Juul Response

A Juul spokesperson responded to the lawsuits in an email last year:  “JUUL Labs does not believe the cases have merit and will be defending them vigorously.”

Juul the No. 1 E-Cigarette

The most popular e-cigarette in the U.S., Juul generated more than $1 billion in sales in 2018, which was 300% more than it had in 2017. Some Juul users are perhaps genuinely trying to use Juul products in order to stop smoking real cigarettes, because Juul has taught them that e-c igarettes are less hazardous than actual burning ones, but hundreds of thousands of teenagers also smoke Juul today. They smoke today because Juul has enticed them into developing the habit, and now hooked them on one of the world’s most dangerously addictive drugs.

A Juul Nicotine Epidemic

Medical experts have called the e-cigarette trend a Juul-driven “youth nicotine epidemic.” Even the FDA has noticed the scope of the problem. Late in 2018, the agency said it was seeking a nationwide ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The FDA also said then that it would sharply restrict the sales of fruity-flavored nicotine vaping cartridges. Anticipating the FDA actions, Juul announced late last year that it had halted sales of its fruit-flavored nicotine pods in retail stores, though the company said it would still sell them online. Juul also moved to shut down its Facebook FB +0% and Instagram pages in the U.S.; but the horse, of course, left the barn long ago, in full view of and with an aggressive push from Juul.

Juul acknowledges problem, denies responsibility

Juul acknowledges that some underage users (below 18 or 21, depending on their state) use Juul products, but the company has repeatedly said that, in its four years on the market, it has never marketed to underage people.

Stanford University Studies Juul Marketing

However, a physician and professor at Stanford University who studies tobacco advertising has called out Juul. Dr. Robert Jackler, co-founder of a group called Stanford Research Into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising (SRITA) – a Stanford University-affiliated program – says Juul deleted most of its social media posts over several time periods before September 2018. Dr. Jackler and his group have nevertheless maintained an archive of Juul’s deleted posts (much of it available on SRITA’s site), which includes more than 2,500 tweets, 400 Facebook and Instagram posts, and material from Juul’s website, emails, and print campaigns dating back to Juul’s June 2015 launch.

Dr. Jackler: Juul marketed to Youth

Dr. Jackler says Juul’s marketing clearly appealed to youth, most obviously from mid-2015 to 2016. Forbes magazine notes that, “His archived Juul ads are filled with attractive young models socializing and flirtatiously sharing the flash-drive shaped device, displaying behavior like dancing to club-like music and wearing clothes more characteristic of teens than mature adults.”

Early Campaigns fail to mention help against real cigarette smoking

While Juul now claims that it aims to save a billion people from actual cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction, early Juul marketing campaigns contain little or no reference to Juul being an option for those trying to quit smoking real cigarettes. Juul’s launch events and parties also often featured youth-oriented bands and free tastings, says Dr. Jackler, promoted alongside ads that made pods seem like “sweet treats” and made “juuling” (now a new verb!) seem like harmless fun.

Juul uses the FDA for marketing shield

Juul has now lobbied the FDA for approval in marketing its nicotine delivery device as a means to “help” underage people avoid the dangers of real burning cigarettes.  Meanwhile, any reasonable person can wonder if Juul’s intended targets would ever have smoked at all were it not for the company’s multi-million-dollar campaigns to hook people on Juul products.

Juul Marketing Hooks Kids on Nicotine

When no less a corporate-profits champion than Forbes writes a story called “The Disturbing Focus Of Juul’s Early Marketing Campaigns,” it’s clear something is badly amiss.

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Catholic Church spent $10 million to lobby against sex abuse victims’ rights

(July 7, 2019) A new report released last month  reveals that the Catholic Church has spent more than $10 million in just the past eight years in the northeastern U.S. to fight legislation seeking to help clergy sex abuse victims seek justice. The church spent more than $10.6 million to lobby against child sex abuse victims’ rights. The church’s clear intent was to stop state legislatures from changing laws which limit the time a sex abuse victim has to file a claim against an abusive priest or other elder. Sex abuse laws the church has lobbied against affect not only those abused by Catholic priests, but also others abused by trusted elders, such as the Boy Scouts of America.

Catholic Church Duplicity in Pennsylvania

While a Pennsylvania grand jury was preparing a report which showed that more than 1,000 children were abused by more than 300 priests, the Catholic church in Pennsylvania was busy spending $5,322,979 lobbying to keep victims out of the courtroom. Rather than fighting for victims’ rights, which the Pope and church leaders always claim to be doing, the church was busy lobbying to prohibit sex abuse victims from filing civil claims against their abusers and the church.

Catholic Church Duplicity in New York

According to CBS News’ Christina Capatides, in New York the Catholic Church spent $2,912,772 lobbying against the Child Victims Act. The church’s duplicity failed in that state when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Act into law, on February 14, 2019. The New York Child Victims Act gives survivors more time to seek justice against their abusers. It increases the age at which victims are able to sue from 23 to 55.

Four law firms jointly commissioned the report, which one attorney said was inspired by frustration:

“We’ve heard a lot about the church’s desire to be accountable and turn over a new leaf. But when we turn to the form where we can most help people and where we can get the most justice — the courts of justice — the church has been there blocking their efforts.”

Following The Money Trail

In Connecticut, the Catholic church spent more than $875,000 lobbying; in New Jersey more than $633,000; in Massachusetts more than $537,000; more than $134,000 and $124,000 in New Hampshire and Maine respectively. 

The funneling of such a large chunk of money to the Church’s lobbying arm, the Catholic Conference Policy Group, runs directly counter to the Pope’s and other church leaders’ proclamations of a new era of transparency in the church.  The sole intent of the church’s spending more than $10 million in eight years was to turn back reforms that would benefit sexual abuse victims. It gives the lie to church leaders’ public avowals to promote transparency and accept responsibility for failing to rein-in wayward priests.

Pope Francis’ Duplicity

Pope Francis proclaimed a year ago, in August 2018: , “The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.”

Sadly, the money trail clearly shows that the church categorically fails to put its money where the Pope’s mouth is. The church’s payouts for lobbying efforts to stifle victims’ rights far exceeds its efforts to come clean and help victims.

According to the report, “CHURCH INFLUENCING STATE: How the Catholic Church Spent Millions Against Survivors of Clergy Abuse,” the Catholic Church has not only continued to invest in lobbying against the interests of victims, but to actually increase its investments in stifling victims’ rights over the years.

Church Standing against Survivors

The money trail shows that not only has the church not worked to help victims seek justice for the crimes against them; the church has worked hard to delay or completely deny victims their rights.

The report data is based entirely on public filings in the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.  It seems likely that at least some of the money used by the Catholic Church to help deny survivors justice came from Sunday collections from parishioners. One wonders if parishioners are aware how their money is being spent to deny the rights of child sex abuse victims.

No matter how you see it, that is money that could have gone to the victims themselves, or money that could have been used for more constructive purposes.  Meanwhile, the statutes of limitations’ laws that the church has fought with more than $10 million also includes those victims who were sexually abused by elders aside from Catholic priests. So the church, with its $10 million lobbying investment, is also aiding and abetting sexual predators and abusers outside the church.

A Come to Jesus Moment

Many millions of us were raised Catholic, and we have learned, and we take, much goodness from our well-meaning priests, nuns, and other Catholic authorities.  But even that goodness we have taken is at stake when the current church leaders continue to coddle abusers and do all they can to deny victims’ rights behind the scenes, while in front of God and everybody they claim to care and  accept responsibility.

Canon Law Changes Needed

Current church Canon law codifies the “secret archives” which the Pope and other church leaders refuse to release.  Those archives hold the names of thousands of predator priests and their victims. Canon law also allows priests like Richard Dorsch – who raped children in the 70s, 80s, and 90s (according to a woman whose brother committed suicide afterwards) – to continue to receive a stipend, a place to live, a car, health insurance, all the comforts which non-criminal citizens enjoy. Canon law needs changing to punish evil men like Richard Dorsch and others credibly named in the Pennsylvania grand jury report as sex abusers. If perverted priests knew they wouldn’t be coddled for the rest of their lives if they abused children and young adults in their charge, perhaps they wouldn’t be so cavalier in abusing those whom they are entrusted to protect and help.

CBS News reported that at the time it published the $10 million lobbying story last month, neither the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, nor the Archdiocese of New York had responded to the news agency’s request for comment.

Catholic Church spent $10.6 million to lobby against sex abuse victims

In a statement emailed to CBS News last month, the communications director for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, Al Gnoza, said the church had not reviewed the report.  Mr. Gnoza said: “For more than a half century, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has lobbied on a myriad of issues that are important to people of the Catholic faith. We do not have a breakdown of costs, but our lobbying budget funds this broad effort.”

The Money Trail and Your State Representatives

Now it is time for a complete accounting of how much of that $10 million went to each state representative who has voted repeatedly against allowing sex abuse victims a chance to see their day in court. The Catholic Church is an extremely wealthy concern, and it must not be allowed to spend its money as corporations do, in order to drive legislation which benefits the corporation at the expense of the citizen.

Related

• The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

• Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit

• Clergy Abuse Attorneys

• Pennsylvania Priest Abuse Lawsuit

• Gay Lavender Mafia in the Catholic Church?

• New New York Law helps Sex Abuse Victims

• NJ eases Limits on Sex Abuse Lawsuits

• Catholic Church spent $10.6 million to lobby against the rights of child sex abuse victims

 

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Bayer CEO may drive Monsanto Roundup Settlement

(August 6, 2018) Bayer’s embattled CEO may drive a Monsanto Roundup settlement. Bayer shares had fallen dramatically after three straight juries agreed that Roundup causes cancer. But those shares jumped last month after the company CEO revealed plans aimed at resolving lawsuits linked to glyphosate, reported InsuranceJournal.com. Bayer revealed that it had hired an outside lawyer to advise its supervisory board about the merits of a potential settlement. The German drug and chemical giant also set up a special committee to help resolve its Monsanto glyphosate litigation.

Bayer’s share price rose with the potential settlement news. InsuranceJournal.com further reported that a fund manager at Union Investment, one of Bayer‘s largest German shareholders, said the higher share price was likely buffeted by some stockholders anticipating an earlier settlement.

“Investors want more certainty as quickly as possible,” said Mark Manns. “But it is for management to weigh up a quick settlement against how many billions you could save by holding out [for a later settlement].” Mr. Manns added that Bayer‘s negotiation position for now was “highly unfavorable.”

13,400 Roundup (Glyphosate) Lawsuits

Bayer acquired Monsanto for $63 billion just before the first verdict against Roundup hit the company – a $289 million judgement for a California groundskeeper in August 2018. Bayer now faces more than 13,400 plaintiffs who allege Monsanto’s glyphosate weed killer caused their cancer. The corporate giant still contests that claim, despite the company’s 0-3 record in defending its Roundup poison, which is used to kill weeds and anything else not genetically modified to withstand its toxic assault, including indispensable flora in the human gut. The company also lost an $80 million verdict and a $2 billion verdict.

Another major German shareholder, Deka Investment, said that Bayer’s hiring more legal expertise was “the right step,” as the move also acknowledged shareholder criticism.

Elliott Associates, which holds  Bayer shares worth 1.1 billion euros ($1.25 billion), said that Bayer’s recent moves help resolve uncertainty linked to glyphosate and help lead to settlements with limited financial costs.

Major shareholders have criticized Bayer for its handling of the Monsanto glyphosate issue; they gave Bayer’s top management a vote of disapproval at its April 2019 annual general meeting.

One of the company’s top shareholders, Janus Henderson, welcomed the measures taken by Bayer as “sensible.” He said they may lead to an earlier-than-expected settlement.

Mr. Henderson said he expects Bayer will lose its next glyphosate trial, which is scheduled for this month in Monsanto’s old hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

Like Bayer, Henderson is banking on the appeal processes starting later in the year  He said that process “represents [Bayer’s] best chance to change momentum in sentiment.”

Bayer CEO may drive Monsanto Roundup Settlement

The best financial scenario for Bayer at present seems to be an affordable settlement deal which allows farmers continued use of Roundup products.  But nothing is assured. The best we can hope for is that the justice system moves quickly.  People and their families injured by Roundup deserve compensation for their losses. Monsanto failed to warn them of glyphosate’s terrible toll. The company must now compensate those whom they failed to treat as sentient human beings put in harm’s way by Roundup and glyphosate.

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Juul Lawsuit filed for Stroke Victim

(July 29, 2019) A Juul lawsuit was filed for a stroke victim last week. Lawyers filed a Juul e-cigarette lawsuit for a 22-year-old Connecticut man. The lawsuit petition claims he smoked two Juul pods a day. He began “Juuling” in his last year of high school and continued until he stroked out roughly three years later.  The petition says that Maxwell Berger inhaled a Juul e-cigarette every ten minutes intermittently for years until he suffered a severe stroke.

The lawsuit was filed in the California Superior Court for San Francisco County. Juul is headquartered in California.

Related: Juul E-Cigarette Lawsuit

E-Cigarette Injuries

Mr. Berger  suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke in July 2017. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital.  He suffered three brain surgeries. He still suffers left-side paralysis, speech impairment, and a 50 percent loss of vision in both his eyes.

Editor’s Note: We post this blog under Drug & Medical Device Watch because Nicotine is a Drug.

Juul Lawsuit filed for Stroke Victim

“We are hoping that Juul takes responsibility for its conduct in targeting and luring young people to use its very dangerous products, and that they are held accountable for fair and reasonable compensation to this young man,” said Mr. Berger’s attorney.

Fraudulent Concealment, Negligence alleged

The lawsuit accuses Juul of fraudulent concealment and intentional misrepresentation of the product’s risks, along with negligence in promoting and selling to younger people, specifically those under 26. The lawsuit is the most severe claim of medical harm against Juul to date.

“The teen vaping was by design, not by accident,” says the lawsuit, which accuses Juul of appealing to teenagers and making the e-cigarettes seem “fun, healthy and cool.”

The lawsuit states that Mr. Berger became addicted in 2015, when Juul had already “become ubiquitous among his high school friends.”

Seven Other Juul Lawsuits

The Juul e-cigarette company faces seven other suits from various states. Most of the suits involve teenagers.

Juul CEO apologizes to Parents

In July 2019, the CEO of Juul apologized to parents whose teenage children had begun smoking. He claimed Juul’s products were never intended for their children. He admitted, however, that Juul has not done any long-term research on its products’ health effects.

Juul Labs has, for a long period of time, faced accusations of using fruity flavors and eye-catching packaging to market its products to teenagers. At the same time, Juul has repeatedly denied these claims.

Juul Class Action Lawsuit

In other Juul lawsuit action, a 15-year-old Sarasota, Florida girl and her family have filed a class action lawsuit against Juul Labs and the tobacco company Altria Group, which owns Philip Morris.  That suit alleges that Juul purposefully targeted teenagers. The company plan was to to hook teens on Juul vaping products with deceptive marketing tactics.

According to the Florida lawsuit — which lists the family as plaintiffs, as well as “those similarly situated” — the family accuses the manufacturers of these products of racketeering. The suit petition seeks damages for the named plaintiffs and potentially for anonymous plaintiffs not yet listed. The suit claims  Juul knew its “e-cigarettes were not safe for nonsmokers, and posed a risk of aggravating addiction in those already addicted to cigarettes.” Altria is included in the petition because it owns a 35% stake in Juul.

The underage girl is identified as A.N in the Florida class action suit. Ms. A.N. claims that she started using Juul when she was 14. She said she enjoyed using Juul’s device because of its fruity mango flavor. At the time, says the suit, she was unaware that the device contained nicotine. One year after beginning steady use of the product, she became addicted to it. She now suffers seizures that are a rare potential side effect of nicotine addiction.

Defendants Prey on Youth

“Health authorities consider youth e-cigarette use an epidemic, and defendants are to blame,” states the complaint. The petition further claims: “Mimicking Big Tobacco’s past marketing practices, Defendants prey on youth to recruit replacement smokers for financial gain.”

Teen Vaping Epidemic

A recent National Institutes of Health study shows the number of teenagers smoking e-cigarettes has risen wildly. Nearly 21% of teenagers in 2018 reporting they had vaped within the past 30 days, up from 11% the previous year. The CDC has also reported that 4.9 million middle- and high-school students have reported using a tobacco product within the past 30 days, up from 1.3 million users in 2017. And although some users and promoters of vaping consider it safer than smoking regular burning cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain high doses of nicotine. Juul delivers as much nicotine as real cigarettes. New research has pointed to a range of potential health risks, including an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Juul leads Teen Vaping Epidemic

From its Silicon Valley base, Juul sells the most popular vaping products. The company commands nearly 75% of the entire e-cigarette market. With its slick packaging disguised as a USB drive easy to conceal from parents or teachers, its broad choice of fruity flavors, its slick social media-based marketing campaigns (which Stanford researchers call “patently youth-oriented”), the Juul has specifically been accused by the FDA of trying to appeal to teenagers. In an effort to curb what FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has referred to as a teen vaping “epidemic,” the FDA has issued more than 60 warning letters to Juul distributors which have sold to underage consumers.

FDA Warning Letters

While Juul has denied the FDA’s claims, the company has also taken small public steps to address the FDA’s criticisms. Juul has removed most flavored vapes from stores.

“Our intent was never to have youth use Juul,” Kevin Burns, the chief executive of Juul Labs, said in a statement last year. “But intent is not enough. The numbers are what matter and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarettes is a problem.”

Juul has repeatedly denied claims that the company was intentionally marketing to young users. Juul told Rolling Stone magazine: “JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world.”

The Juul spokesman further stated: “Our product is intended to be a viable alternative for current adult smokers only. We do not want non-nicotine users, especially youth, to ever try our product. To this end, we have launched an aggressive action plan to combat underage use as it is antithetical to our mission. To the extent these cases allege otherwise, they are without merit and we will defend our mission throughout this process.”

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