Dangers of Vaping in 2020: FDA Bans Flavored Vape Pods & Hits Juul

With the number of deaths linked to e-cigarette vaping reaching 55 and injuries topping 2,500 at the end of 2019, the FDA banned most cartridge-based e-cigarette flavors — including mint and fruity or sweet flavors — as of early February 2020, according to the CDC and the Washington Post.

“Under this policy, companies that do not cease manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes (other than tobacco or menthol) within 30 days risk FDA enforcement actions,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The flavor ban is designed to discourage use of vaping products by minors. The FDA says a 2019 survey showed that about 1.6 million American youths were using e-cigarettes frequently, with nearly 1 million of them using e-cigarettes daily.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says in the FDA statement that the agency is prioritizing its enforcement efforts against the products that are most widely used by children. Azar said the action sought to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as an option for adults trying to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes while ensuring that e-cigarettes don’t encourage nicotine addiction among youth. “We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary.”

The FDA flavor ban exempts devices used in open-tank systems, which typically are sold in vape shops that cater to adults, the Post says.

President Trump signed legislation in December that raises the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. The FDA says on its website, “It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21.”

How is Vaping Harmful to Your Lungs?

During the latter half of 2019, emergency rooms and health departments across the country were treating patients with severe and sometimes fatal lung infections. The illness developed quickly in otherwise healthy individuals. Patients shared at least one common risk: all said they had recently used e-cigarettes or vaping products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labeled the condition “e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury,” or EVALI. Eventually, the CDC linked EVALI cases to cigarette or vaping products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana), and Vitamin E acetate, an additive used as a thickening ingredient in e-liquids.

Most vape liquids sold in cartridges or pods contain e-liquid with substances such as propylene glycol and glycerol as ingredients that create the vapor. In addition, many of the more popular vaping devices contain nicotine and artificial flavors in the e-liquid.

In a December 31 update, the CDC said reports of emergency department visits suggest that the EVALI outbreak began in June 2019 and cases have been declining since a peak in September.

As of January 2, 2020, 76 cases had been reported in individuals in North Carolina ranging in age from 13 to 72 years, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. No deaths have been reported in the state.

In addition to patients who died before or while under medical care elsewhere, the CDC says many were readmitted or died following hospital discharge.

The FDA has cautioned people against adding substances to vaping products and to avoid using vaping products obtained off the street.

E-Cigarette Manufacturer JUUL Target of Lawsuits

Just days after the first known death in the United States attributable to vaping was reported in Illinois last August, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein filed eight lawsuits against eight separate e-cigarette companies. In May, he had filed a similar lawsuit against leading e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL, claiming that it marketed its products to children.

The North Carolina lawsuit against JUUL was the first by a state over the company’s alleged marketing to teens, according to Stein’s office and CNN.

In mid-December, consumer protection attorney Neil Mikhija of the University of Pennsylvania Law School told Colorado Public Radio (CPR) that JUUL now faces at least 200 lawsuits. School districts in Florida and Kentucky have sued JUUL, as have counties in Pennsylvania and Washington, and the states of New York, California and Illinois. Pending litigation includes class action and personal injury suits, including one filed in federal court in Colorado and one in Oregon.

The lawsuits allege that JUUL Labs became the biggest and most profitable e-cigarette company by aggressively marketing directly to children, who then spread the word about vaping themselves by posting to social media, CPR says.

Mikhija and CPR compare litigation against JUUL and other e-cigarette manufacturers to previous cases that led to multi-billion dollar settlements by “big tobacco” and opioid manufacturers.

A study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco published in the January issue of the journal Tobacco Regulatory Science said JUUL products deliver significantly more nicotine to the blood per puff than other e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes.

According to San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX, researchers said adults transitioning to vaping from cigarettes may stop when they reach the level of nicotine they normally consume. “However, adolescent non-smokers who are not familiar with the effects of nicotine may be more likely to chase higher levels of the drug’s effects,” UCSF cardiology professor Matthew Springer, the study’s senior author, said.

Call Our E-Cigarette Injury Lawyers in North Carolina

The e-cigarette injury attorneys at Hardison & Cochran continue to investigate e-cig and vaping injury cases in North Carolina. Our attorneys are ready to pursue e-cigarette lawsuits on behalf of those who have been harmed by JUUL devices and e-cigarettes. For more than 30 years, our firm has been helping people in central and southeast North Carolina injured by the negligence of manufacturers and others obtain full compensation for their losses.

Evidence that e-cigarette companies have engaged in deceptive marketing practices and have targeted youths with dangerous products continues to build. JUUL has already settled suits and made marketing concessions.

Contact our Raleigh law firm to schedule a free consultation to review the specific facts of your e-cigarette injury and your legal options for recovering compensation. We will pursue your case as aggressively as is possible. Call us today or fill a form online to schedule a free consultation.