Over the past few decades, the sharp reduction in young people smoking cigarettes and using other nicotine products has been a major public health success. However, e-cigarette companies such as Juul have taken advantage of this new technology to introduce a new generation to this dangerous, addictive substance. The massive growth in the use of vaping devices among teens and young adults is directly linked to the companies’ ability to engage with members of their target market through social media.
As parents, politicians, educators and healthcare professionals look to stop the spread of vaping among young people, it’s important to understand the ways that social media has fostered nicotine addiction among members of a new generation, such as:
- Paid influencers — Companies in many industries pay people with large online followings to promote their company’s products to the youth market. This strategy has been effective for vaping manufacturers whose product looks natural in the types of photos that typically populate Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. One of these “paid influencers,” Christina Zayas, was contacted by several vaping device makers, including Juul, which hired her for a campaign in 2017.
- Comparisons with cigarettes — For decades, anti-smoking messages aimed at young people didn’t just highlight the health dangers of smoking but also portrayed the habit as something offensive to others. Juul and other companies have drawn a distinction in this area by heavily marketing sweet-scented pods that don’t make vapers’ clothes smell or bother people nearby. One promotional Instagram post from Ms. Zayas begins, “When smoking cigarettes is not an option….”
- Discounts — As businesses looked to hook teens and young adults on vaping, social media served as a platform to provide discounts and complimentary items to attract new customers. Not all of these inducements come from the manufacturers themselves. Some offers are created by companies that sell vaping devices and pods.
Like makers of traditional tobacco products, manufacturers of e-cigarettes should be held accountable when their sales and marketing tactics contribute to health injuries. An attorney with a strong background in mass tort claims involving harmful products can advise you regarding your legal options.
Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban represents clients in various types of mass tort actions, including cases against companies that make vaping devices. Our firm has the skill, determination and experience to take on large corporations to seek justice for the people they’ve harmed. Please call (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We have offices in the Carolinas and Virginia.