Lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court seeks class action, damages against e-cigarette giant Juul

A statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court claims Juul targets minors and misleads with advertising that suggests e-cigarettes and vaping are safer and healthier than smoking. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

A notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court claims e-cigarette giant Juul targets minors with misleads consumers by claiming its products are safer and healthier than smoking. 

In documents filed today naming Juul Labs Canada and Juul Labs Inc., plaintiffs Jaycen Stephens and Owen Mann-Campbell say they were 18 years old when they started using Juul e-cigarettes in 2018.

Both say they developed shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, increased addiction to nicotine, anxiety and other harms, which their doctors connected to vaping.

The men claim they would not have bought or used Juul e-cigarettes had they “been provided with accurate information and/or warnings with respect to the possible health complications from vaping.”

A man exhales vapour from an electronic cigarette. (Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images)

The plaintiffs are seeking to have the lawsuit classified as a class action. None of the allegations has been tested in court.

In an emailed statement, JuuL Labs Canada told CBC News, “We are currently reviewing the statement of claim and at this time are not able to provide any further comment.”

Juul products account for about three-quarters of all sales in the multibillion-dollar industry.

Last week, the CEO of Juul Labs Inc. abruptly stepped down and the company announced it was suspending all TV, print and digital advertising in the United States, but not in Canada.

The San Francisco-based company advertises in Canada on various platforms and has employed lobbyists to meet with politicians to try to influence policy numerous times in the past year, according to the federal registry of officially recognized lobbyists.

Juul is the dominant company in the $6-billion a year e-cigarette and vaping market. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Juul has been under fire recently after a spate of lung-related illnesses among people who vape.

Earlier this month, Health Canada issued a warning about the connections between vaping and pulmonary illness, and last week a Quebec resident was diagnosed with the nation’s first case of severe vaping-related breathing illness. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says 12 vaping-related deaths have been confirmed in 10 states.

Originally touted as a smoking cessation tool, the vaping industry has been criticized for seemingly getting an entirely new generation of young people hooked on nicotine.

Juul became a hit largely because its tobacco pods have a higher nicotine content than other comparable products and, in the U.S, a wide variety of fruit and dessert flavours.

Product selection in Canada is more limited but still offers tobacco pod flavours like mint, mango and vanilla.

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