A Long Island teenager has filed a class-action lawsuit against an e-cigarette company, claiming that it used old school advertising methods to manipulate consumers into using their products.
Massapequa resident Shawn Hochhauser, 19, who allegedly began smoking e-cigarettes four years ago, filed a lawsuit this week in federal court in Central Islip, claiming that he didn’t know the product was addictive or contained high levels of nicotine.
Hochhauser said that he began smoking JUUL e-cigarettes when he was 15 because he was drawn to the company’s mango-flavored product. He then became addicted and is allegedly suffering health concerns.
Tobacco producers Altria and Philip Morris, who have an ownership stake in JUUL, were also named in the lawsuit.
The teen alleges that before he became aware of the adverse effects of smoking e-cigarettes, he was smoking a pod or two a day. He now claims that he suffers from shortness of breath, chest pains, and increased mucus production.
The lawsuit notes that Hochhauser continues to use mint-flavored e-cigarettes.
"When he began purchasing JUUL e-cigarettes, he believed, based on JUUL’s advertisements and marketing, that these products were safe for use, were safer than conventional cigarettes, and would not cause adverse health effects," the lawsuit alleges.
Hochhauser accused JUUL of using marketing campaigns that associated vaping with “love, attractiveness, sexuality, popularity, parties, social events, celebrity and being cool.” Last week, Juul announced that its CEO is stepping down and that it was ceasing all of its advertising.
“JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world,” a spokesperson for JUUL said in a statement. “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.”
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