Blu E-Cigs Not Safer or Healthier, Class Claims

     SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Lorillard Tobacco Company falsely advertises its Blu brand of electronic cigarettes as "safer" and "healthier" than standard smokes when they're not, a class claims in state court.
     Lead plaintiff Larry Diek says in a 50-page complaint filed last week in Orange County Superior Court that he would not have purchased Blu e-cigarettes if he had known about their dangers.
     E-cigs, as described in the complaint, are designed to deliver "a smoking-like hit of vapor, usually containing nicotine, which is inhaled by the user," Diek's complaint states.
     A battery-operated heating mechanism converts a cartridge of solvent carriers containing glycerin, glycol, propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol - also found in antifreeze - artificial flavors, and nicotine into vapor that the user then inhales as he would a traditional cigarette, according to the complaint.
     Blu deceptively advertises their e-cigarettes as a "safer," "healthier," and "smarter alternative to traditional cigarettes" since they produce only vapor and not tobacco smoke. But the vapor is actually "a concoction of chemicals toxic to human cells," Diek says in his complaint.
     "It's not harmless," Diek's attorney Brian Chase, of the Newport Beach, Calif., firm Bisnar Chase said in an interview. "And objective studies show that e-cigs contain disease-causing substances, carcinogens, and other impurities, some of which are found in traditional tobacco cigarettes."
     He continued: "That goes for the vapor as well. "People think that it's just vapor, or that it's just harmless vapor, but its not."
     Scientifically, the vapor - more accurately defined as an aerosol - emits carcinogenic materials that can cause harm to the user and the people are who exposed secondhand, according to the complaint.
     "Mainstream and secondhand e-cigarette aerosol has been found to contain at least ten chemicals known to cause disease, cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm," the complaint states, citing a report by the California Department of Public Health.
     Some of these chemicals include formaldehyde, cadmium, benzene, lead, and volatile organic compounds.
     The National Center for Biotechnology Information has also published in-depth studies that prove the existence of these harmful additives in products like Blu, the complaint says.
     And the aim of the ads made by Blu and other e-cigarette companies is to deliberately undermine the smoke-free social norms that took years to establish, according to Chase.
     "This is tobacco all over again," the attorney said, reminiscing tobacco advertisements that were circulating when he was a child before they were banned.
     "Magazines would advertise that four out of five doctors recommended Camel cigarettes," Chase said, calling Blu and other vaping products "bubble gum and cotton candy flavored e-cigs aimed at young kids."
     "Nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students tried e-cigarettes in 2011 and 2012, including approximately 160,000 students who had never used conventional cigarettes," the complaint states, citing a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control.
     "The youth of today feel safe smoking Blu e-cigarettes," Chase said. "They are unaware of the risks associated with them due to the lack of labeling and lack of public awareness on what these products really contain."
     Of government regulation and stricter warning labels, he added: "It was a fight back then and it's a fight right now, but it will happen sooner or later. California has developed a new poster to counter e-cigs. Cities and counties have also imposed policies regulating and prohibiting the use of e-cigs both indoors and outdoors."
     According to the complaint, there is widespread agreement in the scientific community that further research is necessary before the full negative effects of electronic cigarette use on users' heath can be known and that until then, manufacturers and distributors of electronic cigarettes should not make any representation relating to the safety, health, of benefits, if any of electronics cigarettes.
     Diek and class members seek an injunction to stop Lorillard from promoting Blu products as safe under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, a refund for class members, and damages for unfair competition, deceptive advertising, and express warranty.