McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law

Louisville, Kentucky Lawyer Filing Cases for Vaping Lung Illness and Teen Juul Addiction

Are you or a loved one suffering from the vaping related lung disease known as EVALI (“e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury”)? Are you addicted to nicotine from using Juul or another type of e-cigarette? The personal injury attorneys at McCoy, Hiestand, & Smith, with offices in Louisville and Bardstown, are filing lawsuits on behalf of Kentucky residents who developed vaping-related lung disease as well as those who have become addicted to nicotine from vaping.

Kentucky Juul Teen Addiction Lawsuit

The nicotine-based e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, Inc. controls over 70% of the market share of vaping devices in the U.S. Juul engaged in a targeted marketing campaign directed at teens and young adults that has resulted in a nicotine addiction epidemic in Louisville, the state of Kentucky, and across the United States.

Vaping (or “juuling”) is part of the daily lives of Kentucky teenagers. In a Louisville community conversation that was attended by students from across Kentucky, both middle and high school students talked about knowing classmates who vape. Event organizers noted that the rates of Kentucky high school students who vape doubled from 2016 to 2018, with American Lung Association representative Shannon Baker commenting that Kentucky “kids have experienced the marketing and the enticing flavors and all of the things that have led to a whole new generation of tobacco users.”

Juul targeted teens via social media through the use of young models, bright colors, and sweet flavors like Fruit Medley, Mango, and Mint. As a result, Juul is now at the center of a rising number of consumer lawsuits. These suits allege that its marketing tactics and deceitful packaging led teens to develop intense and irreversible nicotine addiction.

On Sep. 9, 2019, the FDA issued a warning letter to Juul accusing the company of “marketing unauthorized modified risk tobacco products by engaging in labeling, advertising, and/or other activities directed to consumers,” including a presentation given to youth at a high school.

According to the letter, a Juul representative made the following statements to students:
  • Juul “was much safer than cigarettes” and that “FDA would approve it any day.”
  • Juul was “totally safe.”
  • A student “…should mention Juul to his [nicotine-addicted] friend…because that’s a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes, and it would be better for the kid to use.”
  • “FDA was about to come out and say it [Juul] was 99% safer than cigarettes…and that…would happen very soon….”

Juul is already facing consequences as a result of the national outcry against its products.  Juul recently confirmed plans to reduce hiring and cut its staff by 500 employees by the end of 2019. An increasingly unfavorable U.S. regulatory environment regarding vaping caused Philip Morris International to call off merger talks with Altria, Juul’s top investor. This would have created a $200 billion global power. Juul’s ex-CEO Kevin Burns, who resigned in September 2019, has apologized for the epidemic of youth nicotine addiction fueled by Juul: “I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them.”

How Addictive is Vaping?

Medical professionals worry that nicotine salts, like those used by Juul to make its e-cigarettes, are sentencing young people to a lifetime of nicotine. Experts warn that these substances could cross the blood-brain barrier and cause learning, memory and attention problems and lead young people to become addicted to other dangerous substances. To make matters worse, the newest generation of e-cigarettes reportedly has a higher level of nicotine than previous versions, making vaping even more addictive: one Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. As many as 495,000 teenagers who vaped by 2018 are anticipated to become future cigarette smokers.

If you are a Kentucky teenager addicted to Juul or vaping, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can direct you to a facility to assist you with quitting. The Truth Initiative is another resource available for those looking for ways to stop vaping. It offers a free, first-of-its-kind text messaging program set up to give teens the support they need to quit Juuling. The program can be accessed by texting “DITCHJUUL” to 88709. Locally, Tobacco Free Kentucky offers a list of in-state resources for those interested in quitting, such as the QuitNow Kentucky Tobacco Quit line.

Kentucky Vaping Lung Disease EVALI Lawsuit

In March 2019, the first cases of a previously unknown lung disease linked to vaping were reported in the U.S. Now, just over half a year later, the disease has spread to become a nationwide public health epidemic. On Nov. 5, 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported 2,051 confirmed or probable EVALI cases and 39 deaths across the country. Also as of Nov. 5, a CDC map of the EVALI outbreak identifies 10-49 cases in the state of Kentucky. While there have been no reported EVALI deaths in the state as of now, this could change at any time as the epidemic remains ongoing.

According to health officials, a majority of vaping-related illnesses and deaths are patients with a history of using THC-containing vaping products. The CDC announced a breakthrough in its investigation of the illness on Nov. 8, when researchers identified vitamin E acetate, an oil used as an additive in many THC-containing vaping products, as a potential culprit behind many EVALI cases. While vitamin E acetate is harmless in everyday products like vitamin supplements and skin lotions, inhaling the thick, honey-like oil causes it to dangerously build up on people’s lungs.

Symptoms of EVALI are similar to those of other severe respiratory illnesses, such as the flu and pneumonia. Kentucky vaping lung patients have reported experiencing the following symptoms:
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain

Vitamin E acetate is not likely the only substance causing the EVALI outbreak. Some patients have reported using exclusively nicotine-based e-cigarettes, like JUUL, which don’t contain vitamin E acetate. Those who continue to vape any type of e-cigarette should monitor themselves for EVALI symptoms and seek medical attention right away if any health concerns arise. Some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a period of several weeks, while others noticed them develop in just a few days.

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Juuling/Vaping?

Like quitting cigarettes, quitting vaping is hard and can take more than one attempt. When quitting, it is to understand the normal symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

Symptoms of Vaping and Juul withdrawal include the following:
  • Intense cravings for nicotine
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and abdominal cramping
  • Constipation and gas
  • Headaches
  • Coughing
  • Sore Throat

E-Cigarette Industry Under Scrutiny

Local, state, national, and international regulators are scrutinizing the e-cigarette industry and have also become the subject of scrutiny. U.S. lawmakers recently grilled the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), accusing the agencies of dropping the ball in regulating the vaping industry. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, recently attributed the dramatic increase in teen e-cigarette use and subsequent illness outbreak to a 2017 FDA decision to delay its review of those products.

Contact an Experienced Kentucky Vaping Lung/Juul Addiction Lawyer Today

The attorneys at McCoy, Hiestand, & Smith are eager and ready to take on Juul Labs and Big Tobacco. It’s more than that, though: we are also family, friends, and community members of those affected by vaping. We are committed to making a difference in this vaping epidemic. If you or a loved one developed nicotine addiction or EVALI after vaping, please call us in Louisville or Bardstown at 502-233-8385, or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you as soon as we can about your case.


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