DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (WAFB) - A Denham Springs resident is filing what could be a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a 14-year-old who she says is “addicted” to a JUUL e-cigarette product. The lawsuit was filed by the legal guardian of the 14-year-old.
A 65-page document filed in Louisiana names the following entities in the suit:
- Juul Labs, INC. (the producer of Juul’s products)
- Altria Group INC., which recently acquired a 35% stake in Juul
- Philip Morris (wholly-owned subsidiary of Altria best known for producing Marlboro)
“Health authorities consider youth e-cigarette use an epidemic. Mimicking Big Tobacco’s past marketing practices, Defendants prey on youth to recruit replacement smokers for financial gain,” the filing states. The filing also says certain practices used to market the products violate Louisiana law.
A spokesman for Altria Group, INC. issued the following statement to WAFB Friday, Sept. 13:
“We believe the claims against Altria are meritless and will move to dismiss the case at the appropriate time. Virtually all of the conduct alleged in the complaint occurred before we had any economic interest in Juul. Our minority stake in Juul provides no basis for liability against Altria.”
A spokesman for Juul Labs, INC. also issued a statement to WAFB Friday. You can read that statement below:
"UUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world. Our product has always only been intended to be a viable alternative for the one billion current adult smokers in the world. We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products. We have launched an aggressive action plan to combat underage use as it is antithetical to our mission.
"This suit largely copies and pastes unfounded allegations previously raised in other lawsuits which we have been actively contesting for over a year. This case is without merit and we will defend our mission throughout this process.
"We strongly advocate for Tobacco 21 legislation, we stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol based flavored JUULpods to our traditional retail store partners, enhanced our online age-verification process, strengthened our retailer compliance program with over 2,000 secret shopper visits per month, and shut down our Facebook and Instagram accounts while working constantly to remove inappropriate social media content generated by others on those platforms. Most recently, we announced the deployment of technology at retail stores that automatically restricts the sale of JUUL products until a government-issued ID is electronically scanned to verify age and ID validity. This technology also limits the amount of JUUL products that can be purchased to prevent reselling or sharing to those underage, and it will soon be mandatory for all JUUL product sales across the country.
"It was our hope that others in the category would self-impose similar restrictions to address youth usage, and it is now our hope that regulators will impose these same restrictions to protect youth and to preserve the opportunity to eliminate combustible cigarettes, the deadliest legal consumer product known to man."
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