Just a couple of years ago, many were touting Juul pods and other vape related materials as the solution to America’s smoking problem. Vaping, we were told, provided a cleaner, safer way to ingest nicotine. And, unlike patches and other solutions, vaping still allowed smokers to go through the familiar and comforting actions they associated with cigarettes. The wide variety of flavors was perhaps intended to make the experience more enjoyable, so the shift from smoking cigarettes to vaporizers would be easier and more inviting
But, it didn’t take long for reality to intrude. The fruity flavors and widespread belief that vaping was safer than smoking didn’t just appeal to current smokers. Instead, a whole new sector of society – – ones who had never smoked – – took to vaping with great enthusiasm. This group included a great many teens and young adults.
Then, it got worse. Reports, first isolated and then with growing consistency, revealed that vaping seemed to be making people sick. Then, it seemed to be killing people.
Some of the most commonly reported medical problems associated with vaping to date include:
- Lipoid pneumonia
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Blistered lungs
- Respiratory failure requiring ventilation
As of November 5, 2019, the CDC reported 2,051 cases of vaping-related lung injury nationwide, and 39 confirmed deaths.
In other words, vaping is emerging as a crisis perhaps even more serious than smoking. While America learned over time that smoking cigarettes could cause lung cancer, emphysema, and other serious illness, those diseases typically took years or decades to develop. Today, we are seeing vaping related illness and death among those who have been using vaping products for only a few years. The long term effects are not even known yet.
Fortunately, these early cases, combined with what we now know about the number of people ultimately injured or killed by smoking, have triggered much swifter action to fight back against this threat to public health.
While most of the lawsuits failed to date name Juul, the largest and most established provider of vaping products, research has not tied vaping related illness and death to any particular company, ingredient, or product. On November 8, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that samples examined from 29 victims in 10 states had all revealed traces of Vitamin E Acetate. This is the first time a single substance has emerged as a common thread, but the sample is small and the CDC is recommending that all vaping products be avoided pending further information.
Vaping Related Illness in Ohio
As of November 7, 2019, there were 52 reported cases of vaping related lung illness in the state of Ohio, with another 35 currently under investigation. 10 of those cases occurred in Cuyahoga County. To date, there have been no known deaths attributable to vaping products in Ohio.
Vaping Lawsuits Today
A wide range of lawsuits have been filed in connection with vaping related illnesses, deaths, and other problems. For example:
- In October, Juul settled a lawsuit filed in 2015 by the Center for Environmental Health. The settlement included an agreement by the vaping giant to refrain from marketing to teenagers. That includes an agreement not to advertise at sporting events or concerts that allow people under the age of 21, not to appear at schools, and not to use models under the age of 28 in its advertisements. However, it is important to note that the agreement is only binding in the state of California and is for a limited time. In other words, is not a complete solution to the issue of marketing vaping products to teenagers.
- A California woman filed the first wrongful death suit against Juul in connection with the death of her 18-year-old son. The suit alleges that the young man was exposed to Juul’s marketing at 15, and became so addicted as a result of vaping that hospital staff determined that he required nicotine patches during his first hospitalization for breathing problems. He died in his sleep at the age of 18.
- Multiple school districts around the country have filed lawsuits against Juul. These lawsuits accuse the company of business practices “aimed at turning minors into addicts,” and cited significant drains on school district resources associated with combating vape-related problems.
- Local governments in several states have filed suit, including Montgomery County, Maryland; Kings County, Washington; and Lake County, Illinois.
While there are many unanswered questions regarding the possible dangers of vaping, current data on illness and death makes it clear that the issue cannot be ignored. While individual lawsuits and/or class actions will likely play a role in securing fair compensation for victims and curbing the distribution of potentially dangerous products, the early intervention of school districts and governmental entities in this issue is significant.
Governmental efforts have not been limited to lawsuits, either. In addition to the various legal actions filed around the country, several states have placed restrictions on the sale of vaping products. Some have even instituted emergency bans that temporarily block the sale of vape related products. While Ohio hasn’t instituted a ban, Governor DeWine has called for a ban on the sale of flavored vaping products in the state.
Help for People Suffering Vaping Related Illnesses
While research and longer-term policy solutions continue, people in Ohio and around the country continue to suffer the effects of vaping. With the scientific issues involved and the number of unanaswered questions in play, vaping related injury and product liability cases can be complicated. Plevin & Gallucci has the knowledge and experience necessary to handle complex product liability claims, including representation of Cuyahoga County in groundbreaking litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
If vaping products have made you seriously ill, contact us at 855-4-PLEVIN or fill out the contact form on this site to schedule a free consultation.