The CEO of America’s largest and most profitable e-cigarette company, Juul, has resigned, as the numbers of people dying from vaping continue to rise. Kevin Burns, the Juul CEO, has apologized for the rise of vaping related illness which may be related to the use of his former company’s products.

According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of lung injury cases which are vaping related has jumped to 805. There have been 12 deaths confirmed so far. There has been no definitive cause for the illnesses yet determined.

Only a week ago, there were 7 deaths and 530 illnesses associated with vaping. There have been no vaping deaths so far recorded in Tennessee. The 12 deaths reported this week were in California (2), Kansas (2), and one each in 8 other states.

The CDC has advised anyone thinking of using an e-cigarette or vaping products, to reconsider using any unless they are sure of their source or that they do not have any health concerns.

The incidence of vaping related illness doesn’t seem to have been associated with any kind of infection. This seems to suggest that the main culprit is some sort of chemical toxicity. Many of the patients with vaping illness have said that the liquids they used in their vaping devices contained tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or nicotine.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated a criminal investigation into why there has been a sudden upsurge of vaping-related ill health. The probe will investigate where products were bought and how they were used. One aspect of the vaping issue that is going to be examined is whether there is any link between vaping and e-cigarette illnesses and products bought off the street or products that have been modified in some way by additions of other substances like flavors.

The rise and fall of Juul

Juul Labs was established in 2017 as a successor to another company, Pax Labs. A major investor in Juul is Altria Group which makes the well known Marlboro band of cigarettes. Altria was formerly known as the Philip Morris group, still the world’s largest conventional cigarette company. Phillip Morris International still distributes and sells Marlboro cigarettes outside. Juul’s main products are e-cigarettes that use a battery activated reservoir, also called a ‘pod,’ of liquid, with tobacco derived nicotine as the main ingredient, together with flavors. Juul’s fortunes rose rapidly after its creation and by the end of 2017, it was selling more e-cigarettes than any other company.

By the end of 2018, many more e-cigarette users were teenagers. According to the CDC, 3.6million high school age children admitted to using e-cigarettes, a leap of 78% compared to the previous year. Juul’s flavored e-cigarettes, often accompanied by attractive sounding names, seem to have been a primary reason for the growth in teen use of e-cigarettes and vaping.

In response to the steep rise in vaping illness and deaths, the Trump administration has prohibited most of the flavors that have been used in Juul’s and other company’s e-cigarettes. Juul has also responded to the crisis by suspending all print and digital advertising of its products as well as complying with all federal and state legislation.

It has been suggested that teenagers have been attracted to vaping products like Juul’s, not just because of their fruity flavors, but by the sleek, modern look of the canisters and the belief that they are safe to use. Juul’s early success was also thought to be related to its targeting of the youth market using young models and social media content.

Vaping and e-cigarettes have been in use for at least a decade and there has been a rise in their use at the same time as cigarette use has fallen. They have been promoted without a lot of proof, as a safer and less addictive alternative to smoking tobacco products, even though much of the content is a concentrated form of liquid nicotine.

If you are a parent, you should be monitoring what your children are using and if you believe that they have been using e-cigarettes, you need to have a talk about the possible dangers. You need to be particularly vigilant if you suspect your child(ren) have been using substances acquired on the street to add to their vaping cartridges. Young people’s lungs are particularly sensitive to substances other than clean air that enters them.

In the event that a definite cause of the vaping illness is determined and you, or a family member, have been suffering, you should not hesitate to call experienced and determined e-cigarette and vaping attorney at the Keith Williams Law Group in Nashville. You can call the office to arrange an appointment to discuss your case at (615) 313-3999.