In August 2019, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention announced an investigation into lung diseases linked to the use of e-cigarettes. It was the latest in a long line of studies and investigations done into these dangerous products, but it is not likely to be the last. E-cigarette companies – especially those which have engaged in deceptive marketing practices – can and should be held accountable for the injuries and illnesses their products cause.
At Mezrano Law Firm, we are fighting on behalf of clients and families who have been hurt by e-cigarettes and vape pens. Our Alabama product liability lawyers are committed to protecting your rights, and to upholding the laws. If you, your child, or a loved one has sustained a serious injury or developed a life-threatening illness from a vape pen or electronic cigarette, contact us to learn how we can help you.
An electronic cigarette, or e-cig, is a type of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) which can come in varying shapes and sizes. The purpose of ENDS devices is to deliver nicotine to the user without creating smoke, fire, or ash. It does this by using a lithium-ion battery to heat up a liquid (stored in a tank called a “mod”) which contains nicotine and other chemicals; that mist, or vapor, is then inhaled by the user.
Other types of, and names for, ENDS include:
ENDS have been regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) since 2016.
There are a few different types of claims that stem from e-cigarette use:
Two of the most present dangers from e-cigarettes and vaping devices are explosions and fires:
These four examples are part of a long, long list of injuries sustained by e-cigarette users. A recent study found that “From 2015 to 2017, there were an estimated 2035 e-cigarette explosion and burn injuries presenting to US hospital emergency departments.”
The cause of these explosions is likely linked to a problem with the heating elements. E-cigs and vape pens use lithium ion batteries – the same type so batteries that have caused Samsung cell phones and hoverboards to catch fire while charging and while in people’s pockets.
Many smokers of traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes, pipes, and cigars, were drawn to vaping because they believed that the liquids used in the devices were “safer,” because they didn’t contain the same chemicals as other tobacco products.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
First and foremost, the liquids and pods (used in devices like Juul) contain nicotine, and nicotine is a highly addictive substance. In fact, data shows that teens who may have never picked up a traditional cigarette have started vaping: “E-cigarettes have been tied to a large recent jump in smoking among middle school and high school students. From 2017 to 2018, the percentage of teens who said they’d used e-cigs jumped 78%, according to the CDC,” per a report in Business Insider.
Furthermore, there are additional chemicals and compounds to be found in most liquids and pods, including but not limited to:
All of these concerns are compounded by the lack of regulation when it comes to creating liquids, especially before the FDA took over in 2016. One of the most pressing concerns is for THC users. From Ars Technica:
‘A 26-year-old man with asthma ended up in an intensive care unit in July with difficulty breathing after vaping THC oil he bought on the street…. The man’s blood-oxygen levels dropped to just 10% and he was placed in medically induced coma. [The man] suspects his illness was linked to the THC oil….
He cautioned other people who vape THC: ‘If you are going to smoke, just stick to the dispensaries. Don’t buy stuff off the street where you don’t know where it’s coming from.’”
The CDC reports that “some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine,” which means e-cig companies are outright lying on the packaging.
And no company seems to have broken the rules more than Juul Labs, creator of the Juul electronic cigarette.
Juul’s claim to fame was that it could be recharged in a USB port. What really made the company stand out, however, was how quickly the product caught on with teens and youth smokers. While Juul never marketed explicitly to underage smokers, “Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said the increase in e-cigarette [by teens] use coincides with the rise in sales of Juul’s products,” CNBC reports.
The entire brand campaign of Juul appears to be one of youthfulness: until recently, the company ran popular Snapchat and Instagram accounts, and the way it named its flavored pods – “cool cucumber,” for example – were all designed to create a certain aesthetic. Combine that with the way you could charge a Jull in your laptop, and the intense focus on using hashtags in its marketing, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Juul is now facing a federal investigation, filed by Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, which “contends that Juul has been luring teenagers to try the product and has introduced many to nicotine. Her investigation will examine Juul’s efforts to audit its own website and other online retailers that sell its products to see how effective they are at preventing minors from accessing Juul or Juul-compatible products.”
In August 2019, the CDC issued a statement regarding “a cluster of pulmonary illnesses linked to e-cigarette product use, or ‘vaping,’ primarily among adolescents and young adults.” Per their research, as many as 94 cases of severe lung illnesses linked to vaping and e-cig use were reported between June 28 and August 15, across 14 different states. As many as 193 illness cases may be linked to vaping.
Vaping may also be linked to a recent death in Illinois by a patient hospitalized with “severe respiratory illness,” and appears to affect people’s blood vesselsafter only one use.
Injuries linked to vaping and e-cigarette use
For a product that hailed itself as a better or safer alternative to smoking, it seems pretty dangerous to us.
Mezrano Law Firm has always fought on behalf of the ill and injured in Alabama, going up against the big corporations and companies that put their profit ahead of their customers. Product liability claims can be very complex, and you will need an attorney to help you as you make your claim for damages.
The first thing we will do is listen to your story, and investigate what happened to you or your loved one. We’ll work with your doctors to ensure you get the care you need. We’ll use your medical records to show the true extent of your injuries, to convince a jury that you deserve damages for:
If your loved one has died because of a defective or dangerous vape product, we can file for punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
We may also work with outside experts to help prove that you were using the e-cig or vape pen in the intended way, and to show that a defect in the device was to blame, or that the company which manufacturer the ENDS or the liquid/pod failed to warn you about the potential injuries and illnesses associated with the products.
If you suffered an injury or illness related to e-cigarettes, vape pends, or any ENDS, we want to hear from you. The experienced Alabama product liability lawyers at Mezrano Law Firm represent clients throughout the state. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney, please call 205-206-6300 or fill out our contact form. We maintain offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Florence, Gadsden, and Tuscaloosa.