Posts Tagged ‘addiction’
Wednesday, July 10th, 2019
On July 9, 2019. the WBUR (Boston NPR affiliate) opinion blog, Cognoscenti, published an opinion piece penned by PHAI’s executive director seeking to leverage any forthcoming settlement of the the more than 2,000 lawsuits pending against opioid pain manufacturers, their distributors, and their retailers to create an independent foundation to help coordinate a national response to the opioid epidemic.
The commentary, along with an amicus brief by PHAI and other public health organizations submitted to the court overseeing the litigation, considers the public health experience with the Master Settlement Agreement between the states and cigarette companies in 1998. It resulted in large payments from the settling defendants to the states that sued them. But those funds have not been adequately invested to develop the public health interventions and infrastructure needed to minimize the addiction, disease, and death caused by tobacco products.
While it is obviously important for the plaintiffs to recover damages as part of a settlement, the commentary urges that a portion of the settlement should be used to create a national foundation to fund local addiction recovery, provide overdose reversal medication, education, and fostering of promising demonstration projects. Such a foundation should also serve as a watchdog for the opioid medication and addiction treatment industries.
In the face of a crisis, no public health opportunity to address it should be squandered.
Monday, April 29th, 2019
Today, the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) took the first step in launching a public health class action lawsuit in Massachusetts against Juul Labs, the makers of the most popular e-cigarette in the United States, for designing and marketing its product to appeal to and addict adolescents. This is the first such case brought against Juul in Massachusetts, and the first such lawsuit asking only one thing: for a court to require the company to fund a statewide clinical program for the treatment of nicotine addiction in young people who used Juul e-cigarettes.
While Juul Labs maintains that its product is intended to be used by adult smokers, the product’s design, in fact, caters to adolescents, whose brains are especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction. . Importantly for teens, Juul is designed to be used discreetly. To the untrained eye, a Juul e-cigarette may look simply like a USB drive. The design enables young people to use Juul surreptitiously without parents, teachers, or other adults even knowing. This product feature has helped Juul capture a massive teen market. “Kids use Juul everywhere,” said Matthew Murphy, now 19 years-old and one of the class representatives. “I knew kids who used Juul during class. I used it in my bedroom and my parents couldn’t smell it. They had no idea until long after I was hooked.”
Despite Juul’s claims that its e-cigarettes are intended solely for adult smokers hoping to switch from conventional cigarettes, the company engineered its sophisticated e-cigarettes to yield a physiological response and degree of nicotine ‘satisfaction’ which may actually exceed those of traditional cigarettes. Dr. Jonathan Winickoff is a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School who treats Juul-addicted patients in his pediatric practice. “First of all, Juul is not a recommended or approved product for smoking cessation,” said Winickoff. “On the other hand, a teen can easily inhale a cigarette pack’s worth of nicotine in a Juul pod and, because the product’s design almost eliminates the body’s natural response to bronchial irritation caused by high doses of inhaled nicotine, addiction can occur very quickly”
Juul Labs went from a startup to being valued at over $30 billion in just over three years. Its business model depends on the sale of proprietary “pods” of liquid nicotine, including flavors like Mint, Mango, Fruit, and Crème that help make their e-cigarettes highly palatable and attractive to teenagers.
Marianne Savage is the mother of an addicted teen user of Juul and a class representative. “It is so hard seeing your child struggle with addiction,” said Savage. “It affected his grades, his social life, and his health. We have to fight hard to quit. The ordeal of Juul addiction caused my son a lot of pain and anxiety.”
Because best practices for treatment have yet to emerge, young people suffering from nicotine addiction caused by Juul have very few places to turn for help. “The goal of this lawsuit is to make sure that these kids and their parents in Massachusetts have a place to go to deal with this addiction,” said Mark Gottlieb, Executive Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute. “Our non-profit law firm is taking on Juul Labs so that the company with the greatest responsibility for teenage addiction to e-cigarettes pays the cost for effective treatment for these young people.”
Friday, October 31st, 2014
On October 30, 2014 at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI), in association with the Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH), hosted a forum focusing on common tactics and strategies of two predatory industries: tobacco and casino gambling. It featured Northeastern University Distinguished Professor Richard Daynard, David Aronstein, Director of BACH, and PHAI’s Executive Director Mark Gottlieb. The featured speaker was PHAI’s Senior Staff Attorney Lissy Friedman, who presented powerful evidence demonstrating eerie similarities between the two industries.
The forum was especially timely in Massachusetts as voters there are about to weigh in on a first-in-the-nation ballot initiative to repeal the legalization of casinos in the state.
The proceedings were recorded and are presented here: