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Posts Tagged ‘E-cigarette’

PHAI Takes Action Against Puff Bar for Violating Massachusetts’ Ban on Flavored e-Cigarettes

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

CONTACTS:

Mark Gottlieb                                                             Meredith Lever
(617) 216-0779                                                            (617) 373-8066
mark@phaionline.org                                          meredith@phaionline.org

 

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Puff Bar Charged With Violating Massachusetts’ Ban on Flavored e-Cigarettes
In direct violation of state law, Puff Bar sells flavored, disposable e-cigarettes that appeal to teens

 BOSTON, MA (June 11, 2020) – Today, the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) at Northeastern University School of Law initiated action against Puff Bar and Cool Clouds Distribution, Inc., the makers and distributors of flavored, disposable Puff Bar e-cigarettes.

In its claim letter, PHAI alleges that Puff Bar e-cigarettes are sold in Massachusetts in clear violation of a November 2019 state law that prohibits the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes. Puff Bar has become extremely popular, eclipsing JUUL as the favored vape product among young people.

The claim is brought on behalf of 22-year old Juliana Larson of Medford and 33-year old Juliana Shulman-Laniel of Boston, both acting as testers for PHAI. In April, both testers purchased a flavored Puff Bar online through puffbar.com and had the product mailed to their homes in Massachusetts. The package was left at each tester’s doorstep without obtaining a signature.

“Apparently Puff Bar and Cool Clouds Distribution thought that nobody would notice or care that they have been selling flavored e-cigarettes here in blatant violation of Massachusetts law,” said Mark Gottlieb, Executive Director of PHAI. “We care and we will put a stop to it.”

According to PHAI, the sale and shipment of flavored Puff Bar e-cigarettes to Larson and Shulman-Laniel not only violated the state’s 2019 ban on flavored e-cigarettes, it also defied a Massachusetts Attorney General regulation that requires a delivery of e-cigarettes to be made only with a verified adult signature – two laws that aim to safeguard minors from dangerous products, such as Puff Bar e-cigarettes.

The claim also outlines multiple ways Puff Bar is being marketed to youth. A recent Puff Bar advertisement targeted youth and evoked coronavirus stay-at-home orders, stating: “We know that the inside-vibes have been . . . quite a challenge. Stay sane with Puff Bar this solo-break . . . . It’s the perfect escape from the back-to-back zoom calls, parental texts and WFH stress.”

Puff Bars are sold in 24 different flavors, including “blueberry ice,” “sour apple,” “strawberry donut,” and “mint chip” – flavors that make Puff Bars easily inhalable and attractive to teens. Puff Bar is designed to be sleek, cute, and discreet – appearing less like a nicotine delivery device and more like a harmless, fun accessory. At first glance, a Puff Bar may appear simply to be a USB drive, a design that enables young people to use Puff Bar devices surreptitiously without parents, teachers, or other adults knowing. As a disposable product, Puff Bar is also simple to use and relatively inexpensive – two features that make youth initiation especially easy.

“Puff Bar has recently flooded the e-cigarette market with a product that is designed and marketed to addict young people,” said Dick Daynard, President of the Public Health Advocacy Institute. “Puff Bar and Cool Clouds are selling Puff Bar products in Massachusetts in clear violation of state law, and we want to ensure that these dangerous products are no longer accessible to Massachusetts kids and teens.”

This claim is brought amidst a rising wave of national concern about Puff Bar products, including calls from Congress to close a federal loophole that has allowed for the proliferation of Puff Bar products amidst a nationwide ban on most e-cigarette flavors. The Massachusetts law, however, bans the sale of all flavored tobacco products with very limited exceptions.

If PHAI’s claim prevails, Puff Bar and Cool Clouds Distribution, Inc. will be required to cease their illegal sale of flavored Puff Bar e-cigarettes in Massachusetts.

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The Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) is a non-profit legal research center focused on public health law located at Northeastern University School of Law. In 2014, PHAI formed the Center for Public Health Litigation, a nonprofit law firm, which uses the civil justice system to improve public health by focusing on litigation targeting tobacco industry products, unhealthy foods, deceptive health marketing, and deceptive gambling practices.

 See the claim letter at claim letter at https://www.phaionline.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020.6.11-Puff-Bar-93A-Letter-final.pdf



Lawsuit Demands Juul Fund Treatment for the MA Adolescents it Addicted

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.”




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