A Long Island teen has filed a class action suit against e-cigarette maker Juul, claiming the company used strategies from the traditional tobacco industry to “manipulate” users to keep them hooked.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Central Islip, 19-year-old Shawn Hochhauser of Massapequa says he started smoking Juul e-cigs when he was 15 years old — drawn to the company’s mango-flavored variety.
But, he claims, he didn’t know the product was addictive and contained high levels of nicotine and, before he learned of the adverse health effects, he was smoking one or two Juul pods a day.
Now, Hochhauser claims, he suffers from shortness of breath, chest pain and increased mucus production.
Hochhauser accused Juul of employing marketing campaigns that associated vaping with “love, attractiveness, sexuality, popularity, parties, social events, celebrity and being cool.”
The company’s practices have led to an “epidemic of individuals addicted to e-cigarettes and vaping, to their severe detriment,” Hochhauser charges in the lawsuit.
Conventional tobacco producers Altria and Philip Morris, which own a 35 percent stake in Juul, are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Hochhauser’s suit is one of several filed against the vape-maker.
In recent weeks, two Manhattan parents sued the company alleging it got their teen hooked on nicotine.
A New Jersey man who bought e-cigarettes for his son when he was just 14 years old also filed a class action suit against Juul last month, the Star-Ledger reported.
The suits come amid a national crisis that has seen more than a dozen people die and hundreds more fall sick from vaping-related illnesses.
Last week, Juul announced that its CEO is stepping down and that it was ceasing all of its advertising.
A spokesman for Juul the case was without merit.
“JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world,” the rep said.
“Our product has always only been intended to be a viable alternative for the one billion current adult smokers in the world. We have never marketed