Bucks DA Sues Vaping Maker JUUL

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub speaks at a press conference
Bucks DA Matt Weintraub.

The Bucks County District Attorney is suing JUUL Labs., Inc. He says the e-cigarette maker maliciously targeted minors with advertising designed to hook them on vaping products.

DA Matt Weintraub is joining forces with Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele to sue JUUL and Eonsmoke. Steele filed a similar lawsuit last year.

“Together we are sending an unfiltered message to JUUL and to all retailers who knowing traffic e-cigarettes to minors: your false, deceptive and harmful business practices will not be tolerated in Bucks County,” said Weintraub.

JUUL and other vape pod manufacturers have faced national criticism in the past year. The CDC found a link between patients hospitalized with lung issues and vitamin E acetate.

There were more than 2,700 people people hospitalized in the U.S. with EVALI, a newly discovered illness linked to vaping in 2019. There have been sixty deaths from EVALI as of Jan. 21, 2020.

Weintraub made his demands clear at a press conference Wednesday. He wants JUUL to “forfeit its ill-gotten profits, put an to end its pervasive, predatory business practices in Bucks County and fund addiction treatment and education,” according to a statement.

A survey found Bucks County is facing a more pervasive vaping problem than the rest of Pennsylvania. Throughout the Keystone State, about 25 percent of students have vaped, while in Bucks the number climbs to 37 percent.

A sign in a Bristol Township Wawa alerting customers to new vaping product regulations. Photo by Rick Rickman.

“Through deceptive marketing that targets our children and with its network of retailers, JUUL has created a public health crisis,” said District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub. The lawsuit states the vape product maker “turned a generation of minors into addicts, constantly craving a hit of nicotine.”

At a national level, new laws will go into effect on Feb. 6, 2020. They ban the sale of cartridge-based and pod-based flavored electronic nicotine products. The laws do not include tobacco and menthol flavored products.

Also included in the lawsuit are Gulf Mart, of Quakertown, and Delta Gas (owned by Lehal Associates, Inc.), of Warminster. Federal authorities conducted a sting operation in Jul. 2018 and cited the stores for selling vaping products to minors, according to Weintraub.

The DA’s Office has brought on Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C. to represent its side in the case. Partners Patrick Howard and Simon B. Paris, of Horsham, say Bucks County is entitled to compensation.

“It is important to note that our attorneys in this case will only receive compensation if the litigation is successful,” said Weintraub, “and those proceeds would come from the defendants, not taxpayers.”