Are E-Cigarettes the Next Target for Product Liability Claims?

By R. Kenneth Helms, Jr. September 30, 2019

Personal Injury

E-Cigarette Related Illness and Death

As of the first week of September, there had been six deaths reported due to respiratory illnesses related to e-cigarette use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 450 cases of the illness in 33 states have been reported. The puzzling lung disease is linked to vaping devices and e-cigarettes and is forcing doctors to scramble to care for patients who are struggling to breathe.

Most of the patients have been healthy and young and they have all had very similar symptoms. The symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. All of the patients also had one thing in common – they had been using e-cigarettes.

What is an E-Cigarette?

E-cigarettes are similar to regular cigarettes, but due to their being relatively new, the side effects of prolonged use are unknown. In a normal cigarette, a flame is required to release the nicotine. This results in a smoke that is inhaled. In an e-cigarette, an electric current is used to turn liquid into a vapor that is breathable. The liquid is sometimes called juice and the vapor does not linger like the smoke from a normal cigarette. E-cigarettes are sometimes called vapes and there are multiple flavors for people to choose from.

Although the tobacco industry is heavily regulated, e-cigarettes are not regulated and have not been researched for potential side effects. The most popular brand of e-cigarettes, JUUL, hit the market in 2015 and has since inspired a variety of other versions and brands. Each disposable JUUL cartridge has the nicotine equivalent of a pack of cigarettes, and they are available in varying strengths from 3% to 5%.

Health Concerns

The Center for Substance Use conducted a survey that showed that the average JUUL user started using e-cigarettes to quit addiction to traditional cigarettes, believing that the product was better for their health. Another study conducted by the Coordinated Approach to Child Health showed that JUUL usage among the youth is an epidemic, in part due to the variety of flavors and belief that it is not harmful to your health.

Although the use of traditional cigarettes has been subjected to extensive studies, e-cigarette usage has not. The products have also not been on the market long enough to show what the long-term implications of use may be. Consequently, there may be harm being done that we simply are not aware of, and recent news reports prove that may be exactly the case.

E-Cigarette Future

While the future of e-cigarettes may be up in the air, the FDA was given authority to impose regulations and rules over them as early as 2016, but postponed the regulations until 2022. President Trump recently proposed banning all E-cigarette flavors and has directed the FDA to develop guidelines to achieve that goal. Additionally, Michigan has banned flavored E-cigarettes and other states, including New York, are working on similar bans.

However, just like other products that, when used properly as instructed, still injure or harm the user, e-cigarettes could be the next target of product liability claims.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you or your loved one has suffered illness or injuries due to e-cigarette use, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact the attorneys at Helms Law Group, P.A. today.

Back to all blog posts