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Arizona teen’s lawsuit claims Juul got him addicted to nicotine

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

PHOENIX — An Arizona teen is suing one of the largest makers of e-cigarettes, claiming misleading ads got him addicted to nicotine.

The 36-page complaint obtained by KTAR News 92.3 FM states 19-year-old Omar Mejia suffers from “serious and dangerous side effects” and “diminished enjoyment of life” due to his nicotine addiction.

Mejia started using Juul products in 2016 when he was 16 years old. The company had been around for about a year and started an advertisement campaign the complaint calls “misleading.”

“The advertisements showed healthy, attractive young men and women using JUUL,” the complaint states. “The advertisements focused on the colorful devices and variety of flavors with no mention of the nicotine content.”

The complaint goes on to say Juul particularly targeted social media platforms used by adolescents and emailed ads to minors. According to the lawsuit, the Federal Trade Commission has “made it illegal to advertise products in a deceptive or misleading manner.”

Mejia is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

Mejia’s attorney and Juul did not respond to requests for comment.

KTAR News legal expert Monica Lindstrom said Mejia’s case will be difficult to prove “because he’s going to have to show that Juul negligently or intentionally turned him into an addict.”

She added companies cannot mislead consumers. The complaint states Juul did not disclose its products “delivers a level of nicotine to the bloodstream as high or higher than traditional combustible cigarettes.”

“When a company has a product, they are not entitled to mislead consumers as to what the product is, what it contains and what will happen,” Lindstrom said.

This comes as the number of lawsuits filed against Juul keeps growing. School districts across the country, including some from Arizona, have filed lawsuits against Juul. They claim the company lured students into vaping with misleading ads about the potential dangers of using e-cigarettes.

The Tolleson Union High School District is the latest school district in Arizona to sue Juul. It filed a lawsuit on Tuesday.

“Our top priority in the Tolleson Union High School District is the safety and health of our students,” Superintendent Nora Gutierrez said in a statement. “It is our duty to protect our young adults and that is why our Governing Board saw the need for our school district to join this fight for the well-being of our students.”

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