Attorney General lawsuit against Juul draws positive reaction from some students


The CDC wrote that, in 2018, over 3.6 million U.S. youth used e-cigarettes. Photo credit: Jakob Menendez

By Tomas Gonzalez, Staff Writer/Photographer

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit Wednesday against JUUL Labs Inc. alleging responsibility for creating a youth vaping epidemic by intentionally targeting minors in its advertising campaigns.

Following the announcement of the lawsuit, some Emerson students interviewed Wednesday night said the culture surrounding the act of smoking electronic vapor devices promotes their use. The lawsuit argues that the company illegally advertised and sold nicotine products to underage youth and created an epidemic of nicotine addiction among younger generations. The suit asks the company to pay for the costs associated with combating the health crisis stemming from vaping.

As of Feb. 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 2,785 hospitalized cases or deaths from vaping-related illnesses in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Between 2017 and 2018, the use of e-cigarettes increased 78 percent among high school students, according to the CDC. The CDC entry also states that, in 2018, over 3.6 million U.S. youth used e-cigarettes.

Junior Jerry Cardona said she started using electronic vapor devices during her freshman year in 2018, attributing her habit to the culture of smoking at the college.

“You start to get kind of wrapped up in [smoking] and you start to question what you’ve been taught your whole life about how cigarettes are bad, they’re getting cancer and how you’re going to die,” she said in an interview with The Beacon. “Since everybody else is doing it, I don’t see it that big of a deal. I guess it’s kind of self peer pressuring.”

Junior Brooke Northrup said she believes the lawsuit is valid because of the unknown effects related to vaping. She said advertising for Juul may not directly influence people’s decision to vape, but rather the community surrounding the practice encourages it.

“I don’t know if I know anyone specifically was like, ‘Hey, this ad enticed me [to Juul],” she said in an interview. “I guess people who saw other people [using Juuls] they’re like, ‘Wait, that’s cool, that looks cool, I want to do that thing.’”

Cardona said she thinks the lawsuit will not be effective because of the resources JUUL has at its disposal.

“I think JUUL is pretty heavily interlaced with big tobacco as a whole and they have had a huge impact on lawmaking,” she said.

As of publication, four people have died from vaping-related illnesses in Massachusetts.

Sophomore Evan Belliveau said he knows many people who switch from cigarettes to Juul.

“You know, we don’t know how much of an improvement that actually is, but I’m sure that’s part of their marketing,” he said as he took a drag from a cigarette.