The dangers of cigarette smoking are well-documented. In recent years, a variation on traditional cigarettes has appeared on the market and grown in popularity – electronic or e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine and other substances in an aerosol form and often include an added flavoring such as fruit, mint, or chocolate. While e-cigarettes eliminate the actual smoke, they may still pose a range of health threats to users.
Our Panama City dangerous products law firm is very concerned about the mistaken belief, particularly prevalent among young people, that e-cigarettes are a completely safe alternative to their traditional counterparts. We believe that manufacturers must be held accountable when their marketing campaigns spread this false message as they target an underage market.
In a recent article, WJHG discussed the rising popularity of e-cigarettes. Widespread smoking bans have helped fuel the popularity of e-cigarettes, which deliver a dose of nicotine to the user without producing the smoke or odor associated with traditional cigarettes. The lack of smoke also allows e-cigarettes to be concealed, including by students on school campuses.
Bay County's school board recently added e-cigarettes to the list of items banned on school property. Mosley High School principal Sandy Harrison says it is harder to catch students using e-cigarettes. She notes that some students are fairly brazen, using the electronic devices in class when the teacher's back is turned. Harrison adds that all tobacco products are treated the same by the administration, and students are subject to the same disciplinary action for electronic and traditional cigarettes.
A recent Center for Disease Control report focused on the use of electronic cigarettes by middle and high school students. Based on a survey of young people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the number of students who reported experimenting with e-cigarettes doubled in 2011-2012 (from 3.3% to 6.8%). This translates into approximately 1.78 million students who tried e-cigarettes as of 2012. Interestingly, this includes an estimated 160,000 students who had never used traditional cigarettes.
According to the CDC, use of e-cigarettes among young people "is a serious concern." The overall impact of the electronic cigarettes on public health remains unknown. However, the CDC expresses serious concerns about the impact on young people, specifically given the potential that nicotine will harm the still-developing brain of an adolescent and that people will also be at high risk for the use of other nicotine products.
Eventually we learned that Big Tobacco know of the dangers of cigarettes long before sharing them with the public. Call us cynical, but we wonder what they know about big "E's" dangers. If it turns out they were aware of more dangers than they currently admit while they continued to market the product without sharing appropriate warning, they should be held liable. State lawmakers are also working on a ban against selling e-cigarettes to minors. With or without this litigation, we believe in holding companies responsible if they sell a product that leaves a minor seriously ill.
If you or your teen has experienced health problems due to e-cigarettes, you may have a claim against the manufacturer or seller who either failed to warn you of their danger or who even hid this danger and promoted them as "safe cigarettes." Similarly, we believe a claim may exist for those who market to young people. Call our Panama City health lawyer for details.