Two men are alleging vape manufacturer Juul engages in deceptive marketing practices and targets their products at youth, according to a notice of civil claim filed at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver Monday.
The two plaintiffs, Owen Mann-Campbell and Jaycen Stephens, said they have been using Juul products since 2018 and have “experienced adverse health conditions as a result of vaping, including pulmonary disease.”
The claim targets Juul Labs and Juuls Labs Canada, their Canadian-arm, and seeks to certify a class action.
Mann-Campbell, of White Rock, said that shortly after he began using Juul products in 2018 he experienced shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, an increased addiction to nicotine, anxiety and depression and weight loss.
Stephens alleges that after he began vaping in 2018 he experiences shortness of breath, chronic bronchitis, chest pain, coughing, pneumonia, increased addiction to nicotine and anxiety.
Both men were 18 years old when they began using Juul products. Vapes, or e-cigarettes, are illegal to sell or advertise to people under 19.
Mann-Campbell and Stephens claim their family doctors believed their symptoms to be linked to vaping.
The notice alleges that as Juul “caused the e-cigarettes to be introduced” into the Canadian market, they “knew that any damages or adverse effects related to the e-cigarettes would cause foreseeable injury to the plaintiffs and class members.”
Both men claim they would not have used Juul products had they received “accurate information and/or warnings with respect to the possible health complications from vaping.”
Juul announced earlier this month that they would cease internet, print and TV advertising in the U.S., but not in Canada. The company’s CEO Kevin Burns also announced plans to step down.
The court documents further state the plaintiffs were “misled by the statements made by [Juul] with respect to the safety and efficacy of their products and by advertising made by [Juul] designed to market their products to minors.”
Canadian law forbids companies from advertising any health benefits from vaping and from comparing those health benefits to cigarettes.
In November 2018, the company said it would continue to sell mango, fruit, and cucumber flavoured pods in Canadian retail outlets, despite no longer doing so south of the border because they might entice young people to use its products.
Juul would not explain why it seemingly sees a link between flavoured products and youth consumption in the States, but not Canada, beyond saying the two markets “are very different.”
On Saturday, Health Canada warned Canadians who vape to watch out for signs of pulmonary illness, after at least two cases of the disease in Canada were linked to vaping.
South of the border, U.S. officials have launched investigations into 450 possible cases of illnesses linked to vaping, as well as five deaths.
The plaintiffs are seeking to have their claim certified as a class action, as well as general, special and punitive damages, relief under the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, recovery of healthcare costs incurred by the Ministry of Health Services, and costs.
In an email to Black Press Media, a Juul Labs Canada spokesperson said “we have not yet been served with the statement of claim and at this time are not able to provide any further comment.”
– with files from The Canadian Press