Nonprofit Sues JUUL, Alleges Labeling on E-Cigarette Product Is Misleading
JUULpods’ “5.0% Nicotine Strength” and “3.0% Nicotine Strength” Labels Mislead Consumers About Amount of Nicotine Delivered by Popular E-Cigarette Product, Complaint Alleges
Washington, D.C. – January 21, 2020 – Breathe DC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healthy breathing and clean air, has filed a complaint in District of Columbia Superior Court against JUUL Labs, Inc., the controversial e-cigarette purveyor.
The complaint alleges that statements on packs of JUULpods –“5.0% Nicotine Strength” and “3.0% Nicotine Strength”–mislead consumers to believe that JUULpods contain low amounts of nicotine, or deliver only a fraction of the amount of nicotine delivered by combustible cigarettes. In reality, JUULpods contain among the highest concentrations of nicotine of commercially available e-cigarette products, and a single “5.0% nicotine strength” JUULpod (which are available in packs of two or four) delivers as much or more nicotine than an entire pack of 20 combustible cigarettes, according to the complaint.
The nonprofit’s lawsuit comes as the D.C. Council weighs a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette products within the District. On January 2, the Council heard testimony on the proposed ban, including from Rolando A. Andrewn, President & CEO of Breathe DC.
Breathe DC is also working torwards launching a public education campaign focused on educating youth in the District of Columbia about the serious health risks associated with vaping. “Our lawsuit against JUUL affirms Breathe DC’s intention to combine legislative advocacy, public education, and litigation to confront the public health challenge posed by the e-cigarette epidemic,” said Mr. Andrewn.
According to Breathe DC’s complaint, “the proliferation of JUUL use in the United States is due in substantial part to two factors: (i) a patented chemical solution contained in JUULpods that allows for higher concentrations of nicotine than competing products, making JUULpods extremely addictive to users, and (ii) labeling and marketing practices that obfuscate the amount of nicotine contained in JUULpods.”
One study cited in the complaint, which evaluated high school students’ perception of the nicotine strength of JUUL, found that after students were told that “JUULs contain 5% nicotine,” they “were more likely to think that that JUULs contain low or medium nicotine (compared to high) than when they were given no information about nicotine content.”
Breathe DC is represented by Richman Law Group and Action for Smoking & Health. Richman Law Group is a boutique law firm specializing in consumer watchdog and consumer protection litigation, which has previously represented nonprofits such as the Organic Consumers Association and Animal Legal Defense Fund in consumer watchdog litigation in the District of Columbia. Action for Smoking & Health is a nonprofit organization committed to advocating for innovative legal and policy measures to end the global tobacco epidemic.
Breathe DC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making healthy breathing and clean air the norm for everyone who lives, works and raises their families in greater Washington, DC.