It was only a matter of time before e-cigarettes ran into trouble. It doesn’t take a medical genius to figure out that breathing in the same stuff they use in fog machines for years would cause serious lung problems. Now, thanks to several confirmed cases of vaping related illness, and their subsequent deaths, the companies behind the vaping craze are feeling the pressure not only from doctors and parents, but from congress as well.
The House held its first hearing regarding the vaping issue on Tuesday as federal health officials (both the FDA and the CDC) continue to investigate lung illnesses showing up across the country. The CDC deputy director spoke to Congress as to how the lung disease outbreak is directly connected to e-cigarettes. Parents of affected teens also testified. According to Fox News, “Approximately 67 percent of people affected by vaping-related illnesses are between the ages of 18 and 34. Sixteen percent are under 18 years old.” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the House panel that oversees consumer product investigations, claims that e-cigarette maker Juul is “breaking the law in advertising its nicotine pods as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes and [as a] tool to help people quit smoking.”
But it’s not just Congress and federal authorities that are rolling up their sleeves in preparation to fight “Big Vape” but the schools and state AGs are gearing up as well. The Olathe school district is planning to sue the e-cigarette company for the damage it’s done to its students. Meanwhile state law enforcement officials in Illinois and the District of Columbia are investigating the company and probing for a lawsuit.
Big Vape isn’t without a defense however. Juul’s top executives have fought the claims that they’ve aimed their products towards attracting teens. They say that they’ve taken strong action to prevent the underage use of its e-cigarettes. They started by shutting down their Instagram and Facebook pages while also pulling many of their kid-appealing flavors from retail stores. Their best defense, however, is how Juul also has been supporting the legislation to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases (including vapes) from 18 to 21.
But will that be enough to save them from bankruptcy after a tidal wave of lawsuits pile up on their door steps? It’s already led to the cancellation of their merger plans between Big Tobacco companies Altria and Philip Morris International. How they hope to survive this next crisis will take all of the legal cunning they can muster, and is likely to cost them a substantial fortune. We will be sure to continue to monitor the story as it develops.