BALLSTON SPA -- A 25-year-old Ballston Spa woman has sued the maker of Juul electronic cigarettes, alleging she was misled about the health risks of vaping devices and has suffered a lung disease because of it.
Rayn Nigro, who filed the suit last week in federal court, argues Juul Labs, the parent company behind the country’s most popular e-cigarette device, was responsible for her recent diagnosis of lung scarring and her severe nicotine addiction.
In the legal complaint, Nigro’s attorneys allege the company orchestrated a careful marketing campaign to draw in young users, misleading them about the presence of nicotine and the health risks associated with vaping.
“Ms. Nigro is a victim of defendants’ orchestrated efforts to addict a new generation of teenagers to nicotine,” her lawyers wrote in the complaint.
Nigro’s complaint comes amid a flood of revelations of lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping; many of the people affected have been in their early 20s or younger. State officials have moved to limit the types of vaping flavors that can be sold in New York.
In the complaint, Nigro claims she did not even know the vaping devices contained nicotine and also was unaware of the potential health risks involved with the product when she started using it. Her lawyers outline in the complaint how Juul allegedly relied on old strategies of tobacco and cigarette companies to market the vaping devices toward young people by portraying vaping as cool, while downplaying or obscuring the potential health risks.
“Ms. Nigro believed at the time that Juul was water vapor-based and did not know that it contained nicotine,” according to the complaint. “Ms. Nigro enjoyed the taste of the product and, because ‘everyone else was doing it,’ she began using Juul too.”
Nigro claims she developed a nicotine addiction shortly after beginning to vape in 2016 when she was 22 years old, using the device up to 15 times a day. While she had been athletic growing up and played intramural sports in college, Nigro started to suffer from shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain; she was “forced to quit her intramural sports teams,” according to the complaint.
She said she had never used cigarettes before she started vaping in 2015 but has been smoking three cigarettes a day since the state limited the sale of vaping devices last month.
In August, Nigro was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, scarring of the lungs, and was prescribed an inhaler to deal with the shortness of breath that results from the lung scarring, according to the complaint. She also alleges she suffers from increased anxiety, depression and uncontrolled nicotine cravings since beginning to vape.
“Juul never warned Ms. Nigro that Juul was addictive, dangerous, could interfere with her ability to participate in sports, or would permanently alter her brain,” the complaint alleges.
Nigro is represented by two law firms, one based in New York City and one based in Florida, that specialize in product liability lawsuits. Both of the firms promote their work representing clients filing lawsuits against vaping-related companies.
Juul Labs did not respond to a request for comment.