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There are two very concerning trends in vaping — rising use among teens and rising injury and death according to the Center for Disease Control [CDC]. These two vaping related data points are pointing toward the front end of what may become an epidemic. As of December 10, 2019, the CDC has documented a total of 2,409 hospitalizations related to vaping and confirmed 52 vaping-related deaths.

student vaping graph

At the same time, the National Youth Tobacco survey reports that since 2016, the percentage of U.S. high school students using e-cigarettes has more than doubled from 11.3% to 27.5%.

This massive increase in use by teens tracks the rise in popularity of JUUL brand of e-cigarettes. JUUL started with very little market share in 2016, but they ramped up their marketing campaigns to target teens. By the end of 2018, they had grabbed over 42% of the e-cigarette market share.

JUUL growthThe increase in vaping use amongst teens is leading to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. The question is: “what is the underlying cause”? According to Science News, federal health officials have identified a possible culprit: vitamin E acetate, which is added to vaping products as a thickening agent.

What is becoming very clear is that we are seeing a drastic increase of the number of young and otherwise healthy individuals being hospitalized across the country due to vaping.

“While of course, these lung injuries related to vaping are very serious, it really is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Susan Walley, a pediatrician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. “The millions of kids who are using e-cigarettes now… what’s going to happen to all those kids in 10 years?”

It is too early to tell what will happen to all these kids in 10 years, but the early data is clearly pointing to the beginning of an epidemic of serious health consequences related to the increasing use of these dangerous products.

These two data points regarding increasing use combined with increasing injury and death amongst JUUL users is a stark contrast against the marketing campaigns of JUUL, who have touted e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes.

The newly formed Multidistrict Litigation against 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 litigation 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.

On September 18th, the Food and Drug Administration reprimanded JUUL for their false marketing around e-cigarettes being a safer alternative to cigarettes. The FDA ordered JUUL to “stop making unproven claims for its products” and “upped its scrutiny of a number of key aspects of Juul’s business, telling the company to turn over documents on its marketing, educational programs and nicotine formula” – NBC News

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

Researches from Penn State University College of Medicine found that JUUL users’ blood nicotine concentrations were “almost three times as high as most of the e-cigarette users we previously studied,” said study first author Jessica Yingst, a research project manager. The study found that JUUL users “had higher levels of nicotine dependence than more than 3,000 long-term users of other e-cigarettes, according to the study.”

Study co-author Jonathan Foulds, a professor of public health sciences, noted: “In previous studies, we found that e-cigarette users were less addicted than smokers. However, the high nicotine delivery of the product and the scores on this study suggest that Juul is probably as addictive as cigarettes.”

These findings are particularly problematic given JUUL’s targeted marketing to youth.

The September 18th FDA warning letter discusses JUUL’s problematic history of marketing to youth and “highlights an incident recounted by two New York high school students during a congressional hearing in July. The students said a representative of Juul was invited to address the school as part of an assembly on mental health and addiction issues. During the presentation, the students said the representative told them the company’s product was “totally safe.” The representative also showed students a Juul device and claimed the FDA “was about to come out and it was 99 percent safer than cigarettes.”” – NBC News

This reprimand from the FDA comes right on the heels of the first double lung transplant surgery on a 17 year old male here in Michigan. The doctor who performed the surgery stated that vaping was what destroyed the young man’s lungs and necessitated the transplant.

JUUL is now facing a series of lawsuits across the country as a direct result of their deceptive marketing and the dangerous side effects of their products which they intentionally hid from consumers.

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.

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

JUUL knowingly shipped over one million contaminated pods, as claimed by former JUUL Senior Vice President Siddarth Breja. Breja claims he was fired for raising concerns over the issue.

As reported by Legal Examiner:

Breja filed suit over the incident and in his pleadings alleged that JUUL CEO Kevin Burns responded to Breja’s concerns about the contaminated pods saying, “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fo’s, who the f*** is going to notice the quality of our pods?”.

From Tech Crunch:

Breja alleges that when he complained about Juul’s refusal to issue a product recall or health and safety notice, Danaher [JUUL CFO] said doing so would cost the company billions of dollars in lost sales, hurting its then-$38 billion valuation. About a week later, Breja says the company fired him, telling him that it was because he had misrepresented himself as former chief financial officer at Uber. In the lawsuit, Breja says the claim was “preposterous,” and that he had accurately represented his former position as a chief financial officer of a division at Uber.

The timing of Breja’s lawsuit coincides with JUUL announcing mass layoffs of 10-15% of it’s workforce and the departure of four executives. As lawsuits continue to mount against JUUL arising out of the death and serious injuries to their customers, more and more facts are coming to light regarding the dangers of vaping. The Center for Disease Control announced on October 17th that 33 people have died from vaping related lung illnesses as the nationwide outbreak continues to grow (Live Science).

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.

The first vaping related death has been reported in Michigan. Michigan Health and Human Services announced the death of an adult male due to vaping related lung injury on Oct. 2.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. David C. Christiani, M.D. writes of vaping related deaths and notes that “there is clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response.” Between statewide bans of vaping and the recently formed multidistrict litigation we are beginning to see such a response.

Here at Smith & Johnson we are currently interviewing potential Michigan claimants for inclusion in the recently formed multidistrict litigation re: JUUL e-cigarette.

From the Legal Examiner:

As the New York Times reports: “Juul Labs, the dominant e-cigarette company, illegally marketed its vaping products as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday, casting a deepening shadow over the safety of e-cigarette devices.”

As recently as September, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter, to JUUL. In that warning letter, the FDA stated that JUUL violated federal regulations by touting it’s vaping products as being safer than traditional tobacco products.

It’s becoming clear that vaping is probably a much more dangerous alternative to traditional tobacco products. Dr. Brandon Larson, a surgical pathologist at Mayo Clinic recently reviewed lung biopsies from 17 patients, all of whom had vaped. He confirmed direct chemical injury to the lungs “similar to what one might see with exposure to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents”.

This 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.