The number of vaping devices sold in Louisiana and around the country is expected to surpass 50 million in 2021, and the vapor pod maker JUUL controls about three-quarters of a market that is expected to be worth more than $50 billion by 2023. This could be why the tobacco giant Phillip Morris spent $35 million in 2019 to purchase a 35% stake in the San Francisco-based company. The investment has already proved to be a good one as JUUL is now valued at $38 billion.
Adverse health effects
One of the reasons behind JUUL’s remarkable growth is its wide range of flavors. Vaping companies enhance the nicotine liquids used in their e-cigarettes with flavors ranging from watermelon to key lime pie, which has made them popular among children and teenagers as well as people who are looking for a safer alternative to cigarettes. This growing popularity among young people has led to a wave of lawsuits being initiated against vaping companies. One of the most significant of these lawsuits was filed against JUUL by officials in Illinois in 2019 for violating the state’s consumer protection laws by not disclosing the possible adverse health effects of their products. The Lake County State Attorney’s Office took action after learning that vaping among high school children has increased by as much as 82%.
Cigarette companies have faced litigation in the past for deliberately making their products more attractive to minors. In 1997, R.J. Reynolds agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit over its controversial cartoon character Joe Camel. The company began using Joe Camel on its advertising and packaging in 1988 when sales to teenagers earned the company about $6 million per year. That figure grew to more than $475 million in just four years.
Manufacturers are expected to promote their products responsibly, and they can face lawsuits filed by consumers and state agencies when they do not. Aggressively marketing highly addictive products to teenagers is the kind of behavior that is likely to prompt a fierce backlash, and it is not surprising that vaping companies that engage in it are now facing negative publicity and litigation.