Teen tobacco use has been on the decline since the mid-1990s. However, the popularity of vaping devices among minors may soon reverse that trend.
According to a survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health, 37 percent of high school seniors admitted to vaping in 2018. In the same survey, nearly 18 percent of eighth graders — thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds — said they had used a vaping device.
Vaping can have serious effects on users’ health, potentially causing life-threatening illnesses and even resulting in lifelong addictions and permanent changes in brain chemistry. And teens are particularly vulnerable, especially because vaping companies like Juul may have leveraged social media messaging and images that targeted underage users.
If your teen has become addicted or ill due to vaping, social media marketing may be to blame, and you may be able to pursue legal action for your child’s harms and losses. Here’s what you need to know.
Health Risks Associated with Vaping
All forms of tobacco pose serious health threats. However, vaping has been associated with an outbreak of lung injuries, a condition known as e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain
- Stomach pains
- Nausea and vomiting
If your child has used a vaping device and is exhibiting the symptoms above, you should see a medical professional right away. Vaping lung injuries can be very serious: as of January 7, 2020, 2,602 individuals had been hospitalized or died from EVALI, and 57 deaths had been reported.
Teens Exposed to Pro-Tobacco and Vaping Messaging and Imagery Are More Likely to Become Addicted
Teens are particularly vulnerable to vaping lung injuries due to the popularity of vaping among their peers. Additionally, teens who use tobacco are much more likely to become lifelong addicts. Tobacco use can also cause permanent changes in the brain, including mood disorders and lowered impulse control.
Minors also tend to be much more impressionable than adults, so visual representations of smoking can have a big impact on their decision to use tobacco. For instance, according to the American Lung Association, teens who see characters smoking in movies are 2.6 times more likely to take up smoking than those who don’t.
Juul Social Media Campaigns Directly Targeted Minors
Vaping manufacturers have been accused of targeting teenagers through their advertising and marketing campaigns. According to research from the CDC, 70 percent of middle and high schoolers were exposed to e-cigarette ads in 2014, both online and in retail stores.
Traditional cigarette companies are limited in the type of advertising they can use and where they place it. However, e-cigarette manufacturers were originally not subject to these kinds of regulations (although the FTC recently began requiring health warnings on e-cigarette advertising and packaging).
Juul, the largest vape maker, has been the focus of many vape lawsuits and investigations. The company has been accused of directly targeting minors through its advertising and marketing, particularly on social media platforms. Specifically, Juul lawsuits and studies allege that Juul:
- Ran social media imagery featuring photos of young adults.
- Used themes that would appear to young users, including scenes of parties and other social gatherings.
- Promoted its products as a safer alternative to cigarettes without evidence to support these claims.
- Used Twitter bots to post pro-vaping tweets.
- Used the hashtag #Juul to promote viral posts on Twitter and Instagram.
- Hired social media influencers to promote Juul products.
How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Vaping-Related Illness Case
If your child has been diagnosed with EVALI or has become addicted to vaping, you may have a case for compensation or even grounds for a vape lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer can help you document details relating to your teen’s injury or addiction and build a strategy to argue for your rights. Having an experienced lawyer on your side greatly increases your chance of obtaining the maximum compensation allowable under the law, particularly when dealing with a large corporation like Juul.
Vaping manufacturers often have large legal teams at their disposal, which is why it’s important to hire a lawyer with a reputation for winning cases against corporations. Our team at FVF has an outstanding case record and sterling reviews on AVVO, Google, and Yelp. We offer a free case consultation so you can learn about your rights and options in your vape lung injury case in a pressure-free environment. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.