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First lawsuit against vaping companies filed in Wisconsin

Posted at 1:20 PM, Sep 20, 2019

MILWAUKEE — Three teens from Wisconsin have filed a lawsuit Friday against JUUL e-cigarettes saying they were targeted by deceptive marketing campaigns. These are the first lawsuits filed in Wisconsin against vaping companies over alleged marketing to teens.

The lawsuit alleges that JUUL and its part-owner Altria (formerly Phillip Morris) took advantage of the fact that the vaping industry was "virtually unregulated" and launched massive social media campaigns aimed towards teens starting in 2015. The highly-addictive product was marketed as "safe, fun and appropriate for recreational use," according to the claim.

The case claims that teens believed they could use JUUL products safely and now find themselves addicted to nicotine and suffering health consequences.

Lawsuits were also filed in Illinois, Florida, New Jersey and Washington Friday on behalf over more than a dozen people who claim they became addicted to JUUL vaping products as teens.

“It was completely unacceptable to market to teens. By their actions, JUUL and Altria have undone decades of work that was done to combat youth addiction to nicotine and should be held accountable,” said Chuck Crueger of Crueger Dickinson, the law firm representing the teens in the case.

The lawsuit summarizes a complete lack of regard for youth health knowing their products were in fact more dangerous to teens than cigarettes.

“The cases being filed today are important to shine the light on the improper marketing to teens across America,” said plaintiff Skylar Ledford. “Had I known about the risks of using JUUL, I never would have started.”

Eight people have died across the country from vaping and 530 people have confirmed and probable cases of lung injury related to e-cigarettes, said the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Thursday. A sharp increase of more than 150 cases than were previously reported just eight days earlier on Sept. 11.

Two Kenosha brothers were arrested and charged with multiple felonies for maintaining a drug trafficking place with intent to deliver over 10,000 grams of THC. Tyler Huffhines, his brother and ten others were manufacturing 3,000 to 5,000 THC vape cartridges per day in a Bristol residence. The packaging stated the vape cartridge contained just 5mg of THC, when in reality it had over 1,000mg, according to Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth.

Local school districts and towns in southeastern Wisconsin have proposed bans of vaping products on school grounds, public parks and buildings in an attempt to curb use.

TODAY'S TMJ4 has reached out to the law firm defending the teens. This is an ongoing story. Check back for updates.