PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc. for the company’s role in cultivating and fostering an e-cigarette epidemic among youth in Philadelphia.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and abatement remedies to combat the e-cigarette epidemic, which has severely impacted the City and its youth. The City is also seeking compensatory damages to provide relief from financial losses as a result of the epidemic. The lawsuit was filed in State Court in California, the home of JUUL Labs, Inc.
“The City of Philadelphia is committed to the health and safety of its residents and in recent years has built a robust affirmative litigation practice to protect these interests” said City Solicitor Marcel S. Pratt. “This lawsuit supports that commitment by holding JUUL accountable for intentionally marketing its unsafe products directly to the City’s youth, including school age minors. In recent years, the City has seen dramatic increases in vaping among students after years of seeing youth smoking rates plummet. This dramatic turnaround is largely because of JUUL’s e-cigarette products and vaping.”
Since entering the market in 2015, JUUL has dominated the e-cigarette industry, controlling over 70 percent of the market. Reports found that in 2018, 4.9 million middle and high school students used tobacco products, with 3.6 million of those students using e-cigarettes. From 2017 to 2018, youth e-cigarette users increased by 1.5 million. That growth is largely based on JUUL’s market strategy, which is to target school-age children to ensure the continual growth of their consumer base.
“The health of Philadelphia’s children is far too important to stand idly by,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This corporation reaps untold profits by pushing an addictive product through its relentless and exploitative marketing, a shameful practice that this litigation aims to halt. JUUL needs to be held accountable.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the 2018 spike in nicotine vaping was the largest for any substance recorded in 44 years. JUUL’s aggressive, strategic marketing and product designs not only create an addiction crisis among youth consumers, but also a widespread burden on local governments like the City of Philadelphia.
“JUUL developed and marketed a product to deliberately get young people addicted to nicotine,” Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. “The next generation is too important to Philadelphia for us to allow them to do that.”
The City of Philadelphia is represented by Litigation Chair, Diana Cortes, Chief Deputy City Solicitor Eleanor Ewing, and Deputy City Solicitor Danielle Walsh, and by outside counsel Jerry DeSiderato of the Philadelphia-based law firm Dilworth Paxson LLP and John P. Fiske, Jason Julius, and Torri Sherlin of the national law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C.