SARASOTA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Colorful advertisements and fruity flavors are why a federal class-action lawsuit says e-cigarette companies like Juul, Altria, and Philip Morris USA are breaking federal law by marketing nicotine products to children.
Erin and Jared NesSmith say their 15-year-old-daughter was smoking a cartridge a day, which they say is equivalent to the nicotine of 20 cigarettes.
“All she cared about was where she was going to get her next Juul from,” Erin, the girl’s mother said.
The NesSmiths say their daughter dropped out of varsity sports and began skipping class so she could vape.
The NesSmiths say the device is small enough to overlook and the smell is not as powerful as a cigarette, so when they discovered their daughter’s problem they say it was too late.
No matter how they punished her, they say the addiction won over.
The NesSmiths' lawsuit claims the habit aggravated their daughter's pre-existing condition which causes seizures.
“With the addiction, she has focused completely, like any other hardcore drug… and I believe this is in the same class,” Erin NesSmith said. “We’ve been through hell the last year and a half.”
In a statement to FOX 13, Juul said, “….we do not want non-nicotine users, especially youth, to ever try our product. To this end, we have launched an aggressive action plan to combat underage use...we will defend our mission throughout this process.”
Health experts and school districts are seeing an uptick in e-cigarette use among young peple. Sarasota County has caught students with e-cigs or vapes 327 times this school year alone. Students caught now have to take an online course with their parent or guardian warning them about the dangers of addiction.
The complaint filed in federal court did not say how much money they are seeking and an attorney involved in the case wouldn’t comment.