As vape panic roils, flurry of lawsuits against Juul has begun
Inhale vapor. Exhale cash.
The health risks around vaping are so unknown, and there is so much money in the pockets of e-cigarette makers like Juul lawyers are greasing up their hands for the reach-in.
Here are some e-cig lawsuits already filed:
A Kansas dude who says he goes through five pods a week.
A Connecticut man who says false advertising led him to start using Juuls, which he says cause him chest pain.
A New Jersey dad who bought Juuls for his 14-year-old son, who now coughs and vomits.
Dozens of lawsuits, all against Juul. Many of these lawsuits say that Juul's happy, slick ads misled them into thinking Juuls were safe, when in fact they've lead to health problems.
The concequenses of vaping are unclear at this point, and it may be decades before we know actual long-term effects. Scientists are studying links between vaping and lung diesase, seizure and addiction.
But so far, 530 vapers have gotten sick nationwide, and eight people have died.
Many reports said the cause was mainly — but not always — black-market vape cartridges that contain THC.
But the lawsuits against Juul allege it was regular, off-the-shelf Juul products that did the damage.
One reason lawsuits target Juul is Juul is a $38 billion company; Altria, owner of cigarette company Philip Morris, recently invested $13 billion in Juul.
Lawyers remember that, 20 years ago, state officials wrenched a $200 billion settlement from cigarette-makers like Philip Morris. Lawyers sense billions of dollars in payouts from Juul, too.
Lawyers will go after Juul for many reasons: for hooking kids, for draining their bank accounts, for harming their healths.
To recruit new clients for more lawsuits, lawyers are already using skeevy tactics. For one, they're running Facebook ads with a viral photo of a teen who says vape use put her in the hospital, with a link to a website called Juul-claims.com.
"What we're seeing now is a coordinated campaign on behalf of injury lawyers to abuse the science on vaping," said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the industry-lobbying group Consumer Choice Center, in a statement. "To drum up as much misinformation on vaping as possible in order to file large class-action lawsuits that will end up financially benefiting them."
Eight vape-related deaths are eight too many, but eight is not a large number. Eight million deaths worldwide are related to cigarattes every year.
After those eight vape-related deaths, the revolt against vaping been swift and massive.
India — home to 1.3 billion people and 130 million smokers — just banned e-cigs entirely. Punishment could include a year in prison. Wal-Mart will stop selling all e-cigs. (Wal-Mart will still sell real cigarattes.) New York state banned flavored e-cigs; Michigan followed.
Juul has been backpeddaling: Juul deleted its Facebook and Instagram accounts, since those are teen hangouts. Juul paused selling flavoried vape pods.
And the vape-related deaths are scaring people back toward cigarettes, almost certainly an unhealthy move, since public health officials believe vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking cigarettes.
Yes, the lawyers are coming after Juul. Expect Juul to be on the ropes soon. In fact, the guy who blew the whistle on Big Tobacco, who was played by Russell Crowe in the movie "The Insider," has now turned his sights on Juul, saying Juul's tactics are "right out of the Philip Morris playbook," and says lawsuits against Juul are a way to "drive a stake through [Philip Morris's] heart."