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Archive for the ‘Vaping lawsuit’ Category.

Montgomery County Files Lawsuit Against Vaping Company Juul


MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — A lawsuit has been filed in Montgomery County against the vaping company Juul, alleging predatory business practices that seek to turn children into tobacco addicts, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Specifically, the suit points to the company’s marketing tactics which the DA’s office called “false and misleading.” Juul knew minors would become quickly addicted, and they knowingly concealed potential harmful side effects from the public while making billions in profit, officials said.

A total of 32 percent of senior high school students in Montgomery County use vaping products, according to a 2017 study cited by the law firm SMBB, which is assisting the DA’s Office with the legislation.

“Juul has turned a generation of minors into addicts constantly craving a hit of nicotine,” DA Kevin Steele said in a statement Wednesday.

Juul did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Patch on Wednesday afternoon.

A single Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes, Steele added.

Juul is one of the largest e-cigarette companies in the country, capturing almost 70 percent of the market.

The suit names Juul Labs and two Montgomery County-based businesses: Guru KOP at Pantry 1 Food Mart in King of Prussia, and Market 24 in Norristown. Authorities said they illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarette products to minors.

One aim of the suit is to get Juul to pay for the county addiction treatment services, as well as educational outreach programs to “abate the well-documented nuisance Juul has caused within Montgomery County,” the DA’s Office said.

Furthermore, the suit demands payment for health care services for early detection, ongoing testing, and monitoring for detection of illness in those who used the products, as well as funding of a study of the impacts of e-cigarettes by minors.

Juul, which owns roughly 75 percent of the e-cigarette market, is facing similar lawsuits from counties and school districts around the nation. Numerous states have banned or halted the sale of e-cigarettes, including Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

After a grilling from Congress over the summer, Juul stopped all advertising and replaced its CEO. In a statement released after the lawsuit was filed, the company denied its marketing was designed to appeal to underage users or any non-nicotine users.

With reporting from Patch correspondent Lucas Combos





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Judge allows Raimondo’s ban on flavored vapes to stand – News – The Newport Daily News


PROVIDENCE — “Custard Cookie,” “Lady Lemon Sherbert,” “Donkey Fruit Punch” and all other non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products remain banned in Rhode Island after a Superior Court Judge on Tuesday refused to block Gov. Gina Raimondo’s emergency public health order prohibiting their sale.

The Washington-based Vapor Technology Association and the owner of Warwick’s RI e-Cig & Vapes shop sued the state last month, claiming Raimondo’s flavored vape ban exceeded her constitutional authority, devastated local businesses and drove people to take up smoking.

But in a 22-page bench ruling Tuesday afternoon, Judge Brian Stern denied the industry’s request for a temporary restraining order against the ban, saying the state Department of Health was within its legal powers to rule flavored e-liquids and other vaping products an “imminent peril” to the public.

“The court finds that the [Health Department] and Director [Nicole] Alexander-Scott reasonably interpreted what constitutes ‘imminent peril’ and made the requisite findings to support that interpretation,” Stern said. “While the court was presented with numerous studies and affidavits submitted by the plaintiffs which seemingly run counter to those cited in the [Health Department] statement, the court need only find some plausible rationale … that an imminent peril exists.”

Regarding the plaintiff’s contention that only the General Assembly has the power to ban a class of products like flavored e-cigarettes, Stern ruled that state law specifically delegates power to the Department of Health to make regulations to prevent “control diseases and conditions.”

On the other hand, Stern found the Department of Health failed to properly notify the public about the emergency vaping regulations, but gave the agency until Friday to post all the necessary information on its website. (Previously it only posted a press release on its website.)

The plaintiffs can continue to pursue the case without a restraining order, but with Stern deciding that they did not have a likelihood of winning on the merits, they may face long odds.

The industry lawsuit described large business and job losses across the state — which it says is home to one vaping products manufacturer, one e-liquid maker and 43 shops — resulting from the ban.

Leaving the courtroom Tuesday afternoon, Donna Dionne, owner of RI e-Cig & Vapes, said she is “very disappointed” and upset at the decision, as were her customers. She has closed a second store in Coventry after the flavored vape ban went into effect.

Keith Cohen-Skali, who owns shops in Providence, Warwick and South Kingstown, said the loss of flavored products has taken up to 70% of his business.

“The rule will destroy Rhode Island’s $54 million nicotine vapor products industry and ruin the livelihoods of the 460 small business owners and workers that it employs,” the lawsuit says. “So too will it likely precipitate a public-health crisis, as vapor-products users turn either to combustible cigarettes or to black-market sources to obtain vapor products.”

But Raimondo argued the ban is necessary to halt a surge in vaping by children while getting more information on a spate of national lung injuries and illnesses tied to vaping.



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Former JUUL Executive Files Lawsuit Claiming the Company Sold Contaminated E-Cigarette Pods | New York Personal Injury Lawyer


A former senior executive at JUUL Labs, the leading e-cigarette company in the country, has filed a new lawsuit against his former employers.  He states that in early 2019, JUUL sent out one million mint-flavored e-cigarette pods knowing they were contaminated, though it is not stated what they were contaminated with.

When the plaintiff, a global senior vice president of finance at the time, learned that contaminated pods had been shipped to retailers and were being sold to customers, he protested JUUL’s refusal to recall those pods or to at least issue a health and safety notice to consumers.  The plaintiff claims that after repeatedly expressing his concerns, he was unlawfully terminated.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  A JUUL spokesperson stated the plaintiff’s claims were “baseless” and that the plaintiff was terminated because he “failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role.”

JUUL Management Showed Open Disregard for Public Health

The plaintiff claims that JUUL’s management, including former CEO Ken Burns, former CFO Timothy Danaher, current Chief People Officer Monika Fahlbusch, and the board of directors

“displayed an open disregard for public health, the health of JUUL’s customers, and the rule of law generally.”

Though JUUL has long advertised its products as safe and certainly safer than traditional cigarettes, studies suggest that the products expose users to dangerous health risks.  Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been investigating a series of unexplained lung illnesses befalling people who vape regularly.

As of October 29, 2019, a total of 1,888 cases of e-cigarette-associated lung injuries had been reported within the U.S., including 37 confirmed deaths.  All patients had a history of using e-cigarette products.

Studies have also revealed that e-cigarette solutions contain potentially dangerous chemicals like heavy metals, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), and flavorants that have been linked to serious lung disease and even cancer.

The plaintiff alleges that JUUL has made misleading claims about the nicotine content in its pods, stating that one pod has about the same amount of nicotine as a pack of conventional cigarettes, while studies have shown significantly higher concentrations of nicotine and absorption rates through vaping that are up to four times higher than that of traditional cigarettes.

Plaintiff Claims JUUL Was Scrambling to Meet Demand for Mint-Flavored Pods

Of particular concern over the past decade is the increasing use of e-cigarettes among young people. The CDC notes that between 2017 and 2018, the number of youth using e-cigarettes has increased by 1.5 million.  The U.S. Surgeon General has called e-cigarette use by youth an “epidemic” and warns that it threatens the declining rates of young people using tobacco, progress that had taken decades to reach.

JUUL has been accused of marketing directly to teens, and Congress has been investigating the company’s actions since the summer of 2019.  The e-cigarette maker is currently facing several state and federal investigations into its marketing tactics.

In response to the pressure, JUUL stopped sending flavored pods (believed to be more attractive to young users) to retail stores but continues to sell mint-flavored pods as “menthol” types.  The plaintiff states that this move increased demand for the mint-flavored pods, resulting in a shortage.  The company increased pressure on its suppliers to produce more, which the plaintiff believes resulted in compromised quality control measures.

In March 2019, the plaintiff learned of a batch of the contaminated mint refill pods.  He states that he asked the company to issue a recall or at least a notice of the danger, and was terminated a week after his first request.



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Teen e-cigarette users increasingly prefer mint-flavored Juul — so how effective is nixing fruit flavors?


A majority of young e-cigarette users vape Juul products, and the most popular Juul flavor among high schoolers this year was mint, according to a pair of new studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association — calling into question the effectiveness of merely yanking fruit flavors from shelves.

Nearly 28% of high schoolers and 11% of middle schoolers this year reported e-cigarette use within the past 30 days, according to one of the studies, which analyzed nationally representative data from more than 19,000 students who responded to this year’s National Youth Tobacco Survey.

More than half of those current e-cigarette users (59% of high-school users and 54% of middle-school users) said that Juul was their usual brand over the past month, according to the research, which was funded by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers also found “a significant increase” in high schoolers’ reported use of mint- or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes from 2016 to 2019, “to levels near that of fruit-flavored e-cigarettes.”

Meanwhile, mint reigned as the most popular flavor among 10th- and 12th-grade Juul users and the second most popular flavor among eighth-grade users in 2019, according to the second study, which was funded by the FDA, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Juul, which commands about three-quarters of the U.S. e-cigarette market, last month voluntarily stopped selling fruity and dessert-flavored vape pods (mango, creme, fruit and cucumber) online, admitting there was a “lack of trust” in the e-cigarette industry and signaling its intent to keep such products out of underage hands.

Juul stopped selling fruity and sweet-flavored pods in brick and mortar stores in November 2018, but the pods were still available online to buyers 21 and over. Some teens bought their favorite flavors on a black market for inflated prices and were spending $1,000 a year on their habit. Research suggests fruity flavors are a prime driver in getting young people to try vaping, a study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine found.

The recently removed sweet and fruity flavors made up just under a 10th of the company’s sales, according to the Associated Press, and Juul is still selling its more-popular mint and menthol varieties.

“Our study calls into question whether regulations or sales suspensions of flavored e-cigarettes that exclude mint flavors would meaningfully reduce youth vaping,” lead study author Adam Leventhal, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, said in a statement.

Juul did not respond to a MarketWatch request for comment on the two JAMA studies’ findings.

The Trump administration reportedly plans to announce a ban on flavored vape products excluding menthol and tobacco flavors, according to Axios, which cited anonymous sources. The ban would reportedly include mint-flavored products. Juul “will support and comply with the final policy,” a company spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

Among many claims in a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed last week by a former Juul executive was the allegation that company leadership had known that mint-flavored pods would compensate for a lack of sales from other flavors.

“You need to have an IQ of 5 to know that when customers don’t find mango they buy mint,” then-chief executive Kevin Burns allegedly told workers, according to the suit filed against Juul by Siddharth Breja, the company’s former senior vice president of finance.

Breja also claimed that the company had sold tainted batches of its mint-flavored products and refused to issue a recall or public-health notice to consumers.

Juul, which also did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, previously told CNBC the company would “vigorously defend this lawsuit” and dismissed its allegations as “baseless.”

The new research comes as the CDC continues to investigate deaths and a lung-injury outbreak related to vaping. Some 1,888 cases have been reported from Washington, D.C. and every U.S. state except for Alaska as of Oct. 29, according to the agency, while 37 deaths across 24 states have been confirmed.

Most samples the FDA has tested contained THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. Officials believe that THC-containing products, “particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources,” have played a significant part in the outbreak.



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How Lawsuits and Regulations Are Chipping Away at Juul


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JUUL Vaping Company Shipped Contaminated Products | Sarasota Personal Injury Lawyer


 

In a stunning allegation a former Juul Labs executive has alleged that the vaping company knowingly shipped 1 million tainted nicotine pods to customers. This allegation comes in a lawsuit filed recently by lawyers representing Siddharth Breja, a one-time finance executive at the e-cigarette maker. The suit claims that Breja was terminated after opposing company practices, including shipping the contaminated flavored pods and not listing expiration dates on Juul products.

This most recent lawsuit comes as Juul already faces scores of lawsuits and federal scrutiny stemming from allegations it created a youth vaping epidemic. Medical officials nationwide are also trying to understand and treat a rash of lung illnesses tied to vaping devices that have sickened more than 1,600 users and caused 34 deaths. The Center for Disease control and prevention has linked many of these cases to black market THC products used in vaping, but health officials have not ruled out nicotine-based e-cigarettes as a culprit.

Studies, including a 2015 report by Environmental Health Perspectives, have found the toxic chemical diacetyl in many of the flavored e-cigarettes preferred by children. Diacetyl was previously linked to bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung” in microwave popcorn plant workers. This is particularly troublesome given the popularity of flavored e-cigarettes with teens, where Juul controls approximately 75 percent of the market.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, among current tobacco product users, more than two million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes, with their use rising from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015 among high school students.

Breja’s lawsuit reinforces previous criticism of Juul Labs alleging that the company has ignored safety issues and attempted to cultivate the youth market in an attempt to maximize corporate profits. In a statement to the Washington Post, Breja’s attorney stated that “Mr. Breja became aware of very concerning actions within the company that could be jeopardizing the health of millions of Juul users.” But that after reporting them Juul Labs fired Breja under concocted, false pretenses.

The number of lawsuits facing Juul Labs is expected to grow. The suits have focused on nicotine levels, product liability, and marketing to children and teens. Across the nation state attorneys general, along with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, are also investigating Juul’s marketing practices.

The Surgeon General of the United States has gone so far as to declare vaping, and specifically youth vaping an epidemic. If you, your child, or a loved one are suffering from the consequences of vaping, which may include respiratory illness, seizures, nicotine addiction, or nicotine illness, you may be entitled to collect damages for the pain and suffering caused by the makers of these dangerous vaping products. Please call Saunders & Walker at 1-800-748-7115 for a free consultation.

 

 



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Judge allows Raimondo’s ban on flavored vapes to stand – News – providencejournal.com


PROVIDENCE — “Custard Cookie,” “Lady Lemon Sherbert,” “Donkey Fruit Punch” and all other non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products remain banned in Rhode Island after a Superior Court Judge on Tuesday refused to block Gov. Gina Raimondo’s emergency public health order prohibiting their sale.

The Washington-based Vapor Technology Association and the owner of Warwick’s RI e-Cig & Vapes shop sued the state last month, claiming Raimondo’s flavored vape ban exceeded her constitutional authority, devastated local businesses and drove people to take up smoking.

But in a 22-page bench ruling Tuesday afternoon, Judge Brian Stern denied the industry’s request for a temporary restraining order against the ban, saying the state Department of Health was within its legal powers to rule flavored e-liquids and other vaping products an “imminent peril” to the public.

“The court finds that the [Health Department] and Director [Nicole] Alexander-Scott reasonably interpreted what constitutes ‘imminent peril’ and made the requisite findings to support that interpretation,” Stern said. “While the court was presented with numerous studies and affidavits submitted by the plaintiffs which seemingly run counter to those cited in the [Health Department] statement, the court need only find some plausible rationale … that an imminent peril exists.”

Regarding the plaintiff’s contention that only the General Assembly has the power to ban a class of products like flavored e-cigarettes, Stern ruled that state law specifically delegates power to the Department of Health to make regulations to prevent “control diseases and conditions.”

On the other hand, Stern found the Department of Health failed to properly notify the public about the emergency vaping regulations, but gave the agency until Friday to post all the necessary information on its website. (Previously it only posted a press release on its website.)

The plaintiffs can continue to pursue the case without a restraining order, but with Stern deciding that they did not have a likelihood of winning on the merits, they may face long odds.

The industry lawsuit described large business and job losses across the state — which it says is home to one vaping products manufacturer, one e-liquid maker and 43 shops — resulting from the ban.

Leaving the courtroom Tuesday afternoon, Donna Dionne, owner of RI e-Cig & Vapes, said she is “very disappointed” and upset at the decision, as were her customers. She has closed a second store in Coventry after the flavored vape ban went into effect.

Keith Cohen-Skali, who owns shops in Providence, Warwick and South Kingstown, said the loss of flavored products has taken up to 70% of his business.

“The rule will destroy Rhode Island’s $54 million nicotine vapor products industry and ruin the livelihoods of the 460 small business owners and workers that it employs,” the lawsuit says. “So too will it likely precipitate a public-health crisis, as vapor-products users turn either to combustible cigarettes or to black-market sources to obtain vapor products.”

But Raimondo argued the ban is necessary to halt a surge in vaping by children while getting more information on a spate of national lung injuries and illnesses tied to vaping.





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Utah vape shops sue health department over e-cigarette rule


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Several Utah vape shops sued the state’s Department of Health over its emergency rule restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid a national outbreak of lung damage linked to vaping.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, retailers claimed there is no evidence to suggest flavored e-cigarettes are causing lung damage and that the new rule could hurt business.

Recent cases of lung damage, they argued, are instead caused by “these persons’ use of black-market THC cartridges,” according to the lawsuit.

The rule, which took effect Monday, bans general tobacco retailers including grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations from selling flavored e-cigarette products. All tobacco sellers are required to post notices about the danger of vaping unregulated THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana that’s been linked to most lung-damage cases in Utah.

All vape shops involved in the lawsuit are general tobacco retailers that can no longer sell flavored vape products under the rule.

The retailers said the health department enacted the rule without public comment and that the ban would cause “irreparable harm to their business reputation” to the point that they would be “forced to close their businesses.”

Utah has been hit especially hard in the national outbreak. State health officials have identified 98 cases and one person has died. Many patients are in their 20s and 30s.

“We know many young people who vape THC initially vape nicotine, especially flavored nicotine,” Joseph Miner, executive director of the state health department, said in a recent statement. “Moving these products to age-restricted specialty shops will restrict young people’s access to them and can reduce the number of users who eventually move on to vaping THC.”

Tom Hudachko, a department of health spokesman, declined to respond to the lawsuit’s claims but said stopping the outbreak is the top priority. He said reducing young people’s access to nicotine vaping and THC products is key.

The U.S. has seen an explosion in youth vaping in recent years, with critics saying the industry is marketing flavors that appeal to teens.

President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed a sweeping ban on e-cigarette flavors. Several states have already done so.

Nearly 1,500 people across the country have become sick from vaping, and 33 people have died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

Health officials throughout the country are advising people not to use any vaping product until the cause of the illnesses is better understood.



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Cannabis board, not Baker, should decide medical marijuana vape ban, judge rules


To avoid disrupting the market, Wilkins allowed Baker’s ban on medical marijuana vapes to remain in effect until noon on Nov. 12, giving the cannabis commission until then to decide whether to adopt emergency regulations similar to the ban, in whole or in part, to change them, or to decline to enact a ban at all.

The ban on both marijuana and nicotine vaping product sales has been in effect since Sept. 24, when Baker announced a public health emergency amid a national outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses that have killed at least 37 and sickened more than 1,800 people. Since the announcement, federal officials have said the evidence increasingly points to most of the illnesses being linked to illicit-market marijuana products; however some patients reported vaping only nicotine.

Two women have died in Massachusetts, and health officials said they both vaped only nicotine. Another 61 people suffered lung injuries due to vaping in the state, authorities said.

Based on state laws governing marijuana access, the judge wrote, Baker’s Department of Public Health “very likely exceeded its authority.”

The Legislature granted the cannabis commission “exclusive powers over medical marijuana,” and defined the Department of Public Health’s role as to “work collaboratively” and in “an advisory role,” Wilkins wrote.

The commission did not immediately comment, saying it was reviewing the ruling. Neither did Baker’s administration or the Department of Public Health.

One of the patients involved in the lawsuit, cannabis consultant Will Luzier, praised the judge’s ruling.

“We believe the judge made the correct decision,” said Luzier, who said he relies on marijuana vaping products to relieve his arthritis and ocular hypertension. “The governor’s adminstration overstepped their mandate,” he said, adding that the 2016 ballot iniative suggested vaping products should be available for sale, which was “an expression of the will of the people.”

In his ruling, Wilkins also noted that lawmakers set up the cannabis commission to be independent from the governor. Lawmakers placed the laws about the commission under the section of state law involving the state treasurer, not the governor, Wilkins wrote, and granted the governor sole appointing authority over just one of the five cannabis commissioners. The rest of the commissioners are appointed through votes that include the treasurer and the attorney general.

The Department of Public Health is “asserting the power to commandeer the [Cannabis Control Commission] to implement DPH’s vision of medical marijuana regulation despite CCC’s exclusive authority over that subject,” he wrote. “That squarely violates [state law].”

Additionally, Wilkins wrote, the Legislature ordered “all” power over medical marijuana to be transferred from the Department of Public Health to the cannabis commission, a change that occurred last December.

“The obvious purpose of the transfer of ‘all’ power over medical marijuana was to change the inputs into decision-making in this area,” Wilkins wrote, so that “medical marijuana regulation would reflect broader representation of affected communities and individuals.”

“The legislature did not want DPH to regulate medical marijuana, but the Emergency Regulations do just that,” Wilkins wrote. “The conflict with the legislative scheme could not be clearer.”


Naomi Martin can be reached at naomi.martin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @NaomiMartin.





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More than half of teens who vape use Juul, new studies show


Menthol pods for Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarettes are displayed for sale at a store in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

More than half of teenagers who vape use Juul e-cigarettes, and its mint pods are the No. 1 flavor favored by high school kids, according to two new studies published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The studies come amid a spike in teen use of e-cigarettes that’s prompted the Trump administration to draft new rules temporarily removing all flavored e-cigarettes from the market until the Food and Drug Administration, which helped fund the studies, can review their safety.

Juul Labs dominates the market for e-cigarettes — so much that the study’s authors even noted that their results may be skewed because the term “‘Juuling’ has become synonymous with vaping for some teens,” according to the studies, which measured the prevalence of e-cigarette use among nearly 20,000 teens.

Of the respondents, 27.5% of high school students and 10.5% of eighth graders say they currently use e-cigarettes, with more than half of both groups using Juul as their e-cigarette of choice, according to one of the studies written by FDA researchers using data gathered from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the approximately 72% of high school students who used flavored e-cigarettes, mint was the most popular flavor. Mango, which Juul recently removed from retailers, was most popular among the 59% of eighth-grade students who use flavored e-cigarettes, according to the research.

Juul removed its popular sweet flavors such as mango and creme from stores last year to help curb underaged use, restricting those sales to its age-verified web site. But a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former Juul executive last week claims the company knew teens would instead buy mint, which it was leaving on the market.

“You need to have an IQ of 5 to know that when customers don’t find mango they buy mint,” then CEO Kevin Burns allegedly told employees, according to the lawsuit. Mint pods accounted for about two-thirds of Juul’s total pod sales in February 2019, up from about a third the previous September, the lawsuit alleges.

The researchers noted that mint may have surged in popularity since Juul removed the other flavors from store shelves. Last month, Juul suspended sales of all of its flavors, except mint, menthol and tobacco.

The research was funded by the FDA, National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Drug Abuse. Juul didn’t immediately have a comment on the studies. 



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