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From Smith & Johnsons Attorney Tim Smith in Legal Examiner:

In April, the FDA announced that it was investigating 32 reports of people suffering seizures after vaping. Since then, 92 more reports were made to that agency. Seizures were reported by first time users and experienced e-cigarette users. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that he expected more reports of seizures following the initial report, “but 92 additional reports over that short period of time is concerning”.

“What stands out in the FDA’s list of neurological cases is the relative youth of the subjects, the lack of any prior seizure history, and their exposure to much higher levels of nicotine than with products like cigarettes or chewing tobacco. Last April, the agency said that it had received reports of seizures occurring in first-time e-cigarette users as well as in those with more experience, and some have occurred “after a few puffs or up to one day after use.”

But what is the connection been vaping and seizures?

“In a February 18 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives—a peer-reviewed open-access journal published monthly with support from the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences—researchers at Johns Hopkins University analyzed concentrations in e-cigarette liquid and aerosol samples in an effort to investigate whether metals from e-cigarette heating coils were present in reservoir tanks or the aerosol generated by the coils. They found lead, chromium, nickel, manganese, and arsenic in 56 samples of e-cigarettes from daily users, and while minimal amounts were detected in refilling dispenser fluids, much larger levels were in liquids exposed to the devices’ coils.” “It is well established that lead, arsenic, and manganese are neurotoxicants that can cause a range of problems, from headaches, drowsiness, and confusion, to seizures, as well as other life-threatening complications, depending on the dose and the person’s susceptibility,” said Ana María Rule, PhD, an assistant professor and director of the Exposure Assessment Lab at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, who was part of the Johns Hopkins research team.”

“We found lead in 94 percent and manganese in 64 percent of aerosol samples; and half of the samples exceeded the [federal] ambient air quality standard for lead,” she told Neurology Today.

According to the Center for Disease Control, as of November 5, 2019, there have been 2,051 documented cases of EVALI [e-cigarette or vaping, product use associated lung injury] and 39 deaths which have been confirmed in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Add to this over 120 reports of vaping induced seizures and the evidence begins to mount as to the health risks associated with vaping. The evidence flies in the face of the marketing campaigns of JUUL who have touted e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Authored by Attorney Tim Smith

The Henry Ford Hospital was recently the first to complete a double lung transplant as a result of a vaping induced lung injury.

As reported by Smith and Johnson Attorney Tim Smith in the Legal Examiner:

Dr. Hassan Nemeh, the Henry Ford Hospital surgeon who led the first double lung transplant on a teenager whose lungs were damaged by vaping, said that the damage to the teen patients lungs was unlike anything he had ever seen.

“What I saw in his lungs is like nothing I’ve seen before, and I’ve been doing lung transplants for 20 years,” Nemeh, the Surgical Director of Thoracic Organ Transplant at Henry Ford Hospital, said at a press conference Tuesday, according to the New York Times.

“This is an evil I haven’t faced before,” he added.

Dr. Nemeh said that the CT scans of the teens lungs before the surgery showed no sign of the lungs because they were devoid of air. He said the teens faced “imminent death” had he not receive the double lung transplant.

“This is a preventable tragedy,” Nemeh said, per a news release from the hospital. “And we have so much respect for this family for allowing us to share their pain to prevent the same from happening to others. The damage that these vapes do to people’s lungs is irreversible. Please think of that – and tell your children to think of that.”

The family said that their son went from a perfectly healthy 16 year old to waking up intubated with two new lungs. Their s

on was originally hospitalized on September 15 with what appeared to be pneumonia. His condition rapidly deteriorated and doctors had to intubate him a week later on September 12th. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan and placed on a ECMO [Extracoporeal membrane oxygenation] device which provided support to his lungs. He condition continued to worsen and the double lung transplant was his only option.

“The lung damage due to vaping was so severe – and he was so close to death – that he immediately shot to the top of the transplant waiting list, which ultimately led to the successful transplant on Oct. 15, 2019,” Henry Ford Hospital said in its release.

Henry Ford Hospital, in their press release regarding the surgery, said that vaping has become an epidemic among youth in the United States. They referenced a recent survey of over 10,000 high school and middle school students showing that 28% of high school students and 11% of middle school students self-reported ongoing use of e-cigarettes. “We are just beginning to see the enormous health consequences jeopardizing the youth in our country.”

Henry Ford Hospital provided resources in that same press release for people addicted to vaping or families with children who vape. Resources can be found here.

JUUL hid the dangers of these e-cigarettes from the public and is now facing a series of lawsuits filed across the country.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

 

What parents should know about vaping from Legal Examiner:

In a recent article from Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher discussed her research on young people’s perceptions of vaping products.

Dr. Halpern-Felsher explained that JUUL e-cigarettes contain over 41 milligrams of nicotine per pod which is the nicotine equivalent of 1 and a half to two packs of cigarettes. She also explained that JUUL uses a salt based nicotine which produces a less painful “throat hit” than what is inhaled from a combustible cigarette. Teens find it easier to smoke and become addicted to it more quickly.

Dr. Halpern-Felsher commented on JUUL’s marketing campaign which creates a false sense of safety among teens that an e-cigarette is a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. It is clear this is not that case, as the Center for Disease Control has now documented nearly 3 dozen deaths nationwide directly associated with vaping.

Standford University is providing tools for parents, educators and health care providers to address the dangers of vaping with teens. “We really try to illuminate the role that marketing plays in getting kids to use nicotine products. We want young people to understand that they’re being manipulated by manufacturers.”

Dr. Halpern-Felsher closes the interview and encourages parents to talk with their teens re: vaping: Talk to your sons and daughters using open-ended questions. You can say, “I read an article about vaping products. I’m curious: What do you know about these?” Then you can share your concerns: “If you’re using these products, I want to understand so I can get you some help. I’m not going to be mad.” You can also talk with your kids about how to refuse, helping them plan responses so that they feel ready to say no.

With the vaping death toll rising nationally, it is critical that parents combat the misleading marketing of JUUL and have very frank talks with their children. Litigation has already commenced against JUUL filed by users who have been injured and even families of those that have died.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Authored by Attorney Tim Smith

Michigan hospital performs first of it’s kind vaping-related lung transplant.

From Legal Examiner:

Doctors at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit “have performed a double lung transplant on a man whose lungs were damaged from vaping.”

“The hospital system announced Monday that it believes it is the first in the country to perform the surgery on someone who had irreparable lung damage from vaping.” – USA Today

The double lung transplant comes in the midst of the vaping epidemic in which more than 2,000 Americans have become sick over the past eight months, including at least 40 people who have died, one of which did so here in Michigan.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Authored by Attorney Tim Smith

Even with all the news coverage about the health risks associated with vaping, in just three short years, the number of teens who reported vaping nicotine in the past month has more than doubled. The Journal of the American Medical Association on 11/5/19 reported that 28% of high schoolers and 11% of middle schoolers reported vaping in the last month.

Read Smith & Johnson Attorney Tim Smith’s write up about the issue in the Legal Examiner:

Teen nicotine vaping has become so prevalent in recent years that the Food and Drug Administration has called it an “epidemic.” An estimated 5.3 million teens use e-cigarettes, according to the study.

In an effort to lower the rates of teen vaping, the FDA is considering banning most flavors. The e-cigarette giant JUUL, who currently holds 59% of the market share, stopped selling some of its flavors just last month. But, it continues to sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavors.

“For young people, this is of particular concern,” the study’s authors wrote, “because it could promote … nicotine dependence, making it easier to initiate and proceed to regular e-cigarette use or transition to cigarette or other combustible tobacco product use.” – NPR

Increasing teen use is causing increasing concern for their health. Dr. John Carl, MD, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic explains:

“We know a lot of the short-term effects [on the lungs],” Dr. Carl says, explaining that vaping increases inflammation in the lungs. Vaping can also paralyze cilia, the “hair-like” projections in the airways of the lungs that remove microbes and debris, says Dr. Carl. When those cilia become paralyzed, they are rendered unable to do their job protecting the lungs, and this increases your risk of infection, like pneumonia. (Both lipoid pneumonia, a lung infection caused by the presence of lipids or fats in the lungs; and chemical pneumonia, a lung infection caused by inhalation of chemicals, have been linked to vaping.)

JUUL has know about these health concerns for years but has done little to educate their users as to the risks. As deaths and serious injuries to users respiratory systems continue to increase, so have the number of lawsuits filed against JUUL for its misleading marketing and failure to warn. On November 6th, Montgomery County Pennsylvania district attorney Kevin Steele filed a lawsuit against JUUL alleging illegal, predatory business practices that target teens.

“This lawsuit is necessary to protect the health and well-being of Montgomery County residents, most importantly, impressionable and vulnerable minors who have been targeted by JUUL, turning them into nicotine addicts to keep them coming back for the company’s own monetary gain,” Steele said in a statement. “We intend to hold the defendants accountable for their misconduct that has unquestionably created and perpetuated a widespread public health crisis with devastating consequences. We seek to put a halt to JUUL’s egregious sales and marketing tactics, the illegal sales to minors by retailers in our county and demand they remediate the harm their conduct has caused in our communities.” – CBS

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania health officials confirmed one person died in the state related to vaping. The state says there are nine confirmed and 12 probable cases of vaping-related lung illnesses and are investigating 63 additional cases. In addition to these state court cases, we are seeing a rise in Federal cases as well.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Authored by Attorney Tim Smith

JUUL intentionally marketed e-cigarettes to teenagers knowing that they were more potent than the average cigarette.

JUUL’s sales force encouraged retailers to stock JUUL e-cigarettes by sharing a chart that showed with 5 minutes, JUUL could deliver 35% more nicotine into the bloodstream than the venerable Pall Mall cigarette.

From Legal Examiner:

“JUUL’s breakthrough “nicotine salts” formula for vaping liquid, now the industry standard, set off an epidemic of e-cigarette use by U.S. Teenagers. Now Investigators want to know if the company targeted young people as customers.” – Reuters

One thing is clear, JUUL executives knew teens were flocking to its breakthrough e-cigarette shortly after it went on sale in 2015. A former JUUL manager admits that its nicotine blend was so potent, engineers devised a kill switch to limit the dosage – but the idea was shelved.

Vincent Latronica headed up sales and distribution for JUUL on the U.S. East Coast from 2014-16. He said the company’s sales force found it difficult to convince reluctant retailers to give them shelf space. That is, until they began showing retailers charts depicting charts on how efficiently JUUL delivered nicotine into the bloodstream. It became a central selling point for its sales force, and, according to Latronica, “everyone wanted it”. The chart showed that within 5 minutes, JUUL could deliver 35% more nicotine into the bloodstream than the venerable Pall Mall cigarette.

In the early years of JUUL, they were seeing 500% annual growth in teen use. Some insiders in the company were uncomfortable with the early signs of teen use throughout their markets. “Company leaders clearly understood the long-term benefit of young users on the bottom line. It was well known that young customers were the most profitable segment in the history of the tobacco industry because research shows that nicotine user who start as teenagers are the most likely to become lifelong addicts”.

In the Spring of 2018, just days before the Food and Drug Administration were to announce a crackdown on youth access to and use of JUUL, JUUL announced a “comprehensive strategy” to curb youth sales. They said, “they were caught off guard” by teenage addiction rates to their product.

That narrative is undermined by two prominent tobacco researchers who told Reuters that they explicitly warned Juul’s founders and a top company scientist about the potential for youth e-cigarette abuse. Neal Benowitz at University of California-San Francisco, said he told Gal Cohen, the company’s director of scientific affairs, that widespread teen use could wreck the company’s business.

“Look, the one thing you have to do is make sure that this doesn’t get into the hands of young people,” Benowitz recalled telling Cohen about a year after the product launch. “If it spreads among kids, this product could be dead.” (Reuters)

What is undeniably clear today is that JUUL tore a page out of the Big Tobacco playbook as it marketed to teens and, as a result, their market share in the U.S. E-cigarette market skyrocketed from just above zero in 2016 to 42.3% in just 24 months.

Explosive growth on the backs of the health of our nation’s teens is not a business plan that should be tolerated.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

As the dire consequences of vaping become better known, more entities are joining in the fight against JUUL and e-cigarettes.

As reported in the Legal Examiner:

NPR reports: Multiple districts filed lawsuits on Monday, including school systems in Olathe, Kan.; St. Charles, Mo.; Long Island, N.Y.; and La Conner, Wash. Three of those suits charge that Juul has hooked a generation of young smokers with its sweet flavors, placing a burden on schools.

While JUUL claims their e-cigarettes were never marketed to children, Shannon Wickliffe, the president of the Olathe Public Schools Board of Education notes that with flavors like bubblegum and grape, JUUL was obviously marketing to children. Wickliffe states, “I understand it as a business strategy, but I think it’s kind of disgusting that you would try to addict our children knowing the health consequences.”

The consequences of youth using JUUL products, and e-cigarettes are dire, with the first youth vaping death reported in New York on October 4th.  Dr. Brandon Larson, a surgical pathologist at Mayo Clinic, who recently reviewed lung biopsies from 17 patients, has confirmed direct chemical injury to the lungs “similar to what one might see with exposure to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents.”

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation involving JUUL will be procedurally similar to the MDLs formed in the Municipal Opioid Litigation and the Roundup Cancer litigation that Smith & Johnson is currently involved in. Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in this Federal MDL re: JUUL e-cigarettes. If you have questions about this litigation and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at (231) 946-0700 for a free consultation.

Earlier this fall, on Sept 4th after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency, Governor Whitmer announced an emergency order with plans to ban flavoring in e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Michigan was the first state to announce such a ban. Other states quickly followed suit.

Vape Pens

E-cigarette supplier and retail store owners claimed that they would “suffer irreparable harm under the state’s new ban on flavored e-cigarettes and other products” and took the ban to court. Both plaintiffs have also argued that the ban will force former smokers back to traditional tobacco.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens found the emergency order invalid under the Administrative Procedures Act. Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nesse vowed to take the issue to the Michigan Supreme Court, and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, called the decision “deeply concerning.”

“This decision is wrong,” the governor said in a prepared statement. “It misreads the law and sets a dangerous precedent of a court second-guessing the expert judgment of public health officials dealing with a crisis. The explosive increase in youth vaping is a public health emergency, and we must do everything we can to protect our kids from its harmful effects.”

Bridge Michigan reports:

Vaping rates have surged across the United States and in Michigan schools. Data showed vaping rates rose 30 percent in some Michigan districts and more than doubled in others between the 2015-16 and 2017-18 school years. In December, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared vaping among youth an epidemic.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to investigate some 1,300 0 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products throughout the United States, including 26 deaths. Most of the patients reported using e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

But others have pushed back, saying vaping — though not officially approved as a smoking cessation tool — has helped countless smokers quit smoking, which research suggests is much more harmful.

Smith & Johnson is currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion the JUUL e-cigarette litigation. If you have questions about this product and what rights you may have, please contact Attorney Tim Smith at 231.946.0700 for a free consultation.