On Sep. 23, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that federal prosecutors in California have launched a criminal investigation into JUUL, the nation’s leading e-cigarette company. The investigation will be led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, but the scope and focus of it have not yet been released. This comes as national outrage grows over the rising number of vaping-related lung disease cases and deaths.
This newest investigation was announced just four days after it was reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a separate criminal investigation into the vaping supply chain earlier this summer. Unlike the California investigation, the FDA is not targeting one specific company or product. Instead, it plans to test over 150 THC and nicotine-containing vaping product samples for toxic substances that could be causing lung disease in vape users. The FDA’s probe will extend across several U.S. states, reviewing the vaping supply chain for potential contaminants.
The urgency of the investigations is reflective of the quickly rising number of lung disease cases and deaths linked to vaping. For example, while the CDC reduced the number of vaping-related lung disease cases to 380 in 36 states on Sep. 13, that number rose to 530 illness cases in 38 states and one U.S. territory less than a week later. Even more alarmingly, nine vaping-related deaths have been reported in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon and Missouri.
The case count and the death toll are expected to continue rising: in a Sep. 24 emergency panel, a CDC top official told Congress that hundreds of new cases of vaping-related lung disease have been reported in the past week, with “more and more” cases coming in daily. Most cases involve patients between 18 and 34 years old, but e-cigarette use in youth has also skyrocketed, with a recent CDC study finding that approximately one in five high schoolers and one in 20 middle schoolers vaped within 30 days of being surveyed.
Because health officials have not yet identified the exact cause of lung disease in vapers, health officials are urging consumers to avoid vaping until more is known. Individuals who continue to vape should monitor themselves for the following symptoms and seek medical attention immediately if any health concerns arise:
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
If you or a loved one became addicted to nicotine or developed lung disease as a result of using JUUL’s e-cigarette products, contact the attorneys at Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A. in Ohio to discuss your legal options today.