Hanna Nakano Oct. 9, 2015, 7:01am


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - A California man claims one of the nation's largest tobacco makers has deceived consumers into thinking electronic cigarettes are safer, when, in reality, there is still little known about the new tobacco products.

Jerod Harris, of Orange County, filed a class action complaint against R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co., claiming research has revealed the electronic cigarettes contain known carcinogens, including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. The suit further states the two substances can cause birth defects or cancer.

Legal Newsline reached out to R.J. Reynolds, but the company declined to comment.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids claims a growing number of adults and youth are using electronic cigarettes, even though there are many unanswered questions about the resulting health effects.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff and other class members were unaware the electronic cigarettes would expose them to toxic chemicals, and were therefore deceived by R.J. Reynolds’ claim that they are a “healthy” alternative to traditional smoking.

“It is not clear whether these products will help people quit, discourage smokers from quitting completely or lead to nicotine addiction and abuse for new users, including kids,” according to the anti-tobacco group.

The suit brought by Harris points to the potential harm to young, vulnerable consumers such as teenagers and young adults.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, youth e-cigarette use tripled from 2013 to 2014.

Harris seeks declarative and injunctive action, statutory and punitive damages, restitution, attorneys' fees, expenses and costs.

He is represented by Mark Todzo, Donna Solen and Abigail Blodgett of the Lexington Law Group in San Francisco; Christopher Burke, John Jasnoch and Kate Lv of Scott + Scott in San Diego; and Joseph P. Guglielmo and Erin Green Comite of Scott + Scott in New York, N.Y.

San Francisco Division of the U.S District Court, Northern District of California case number 3:15-cv-04075-JCS.

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