Should parents of teenage CRIMINALS who ILLEGALLY vape sue vapor companies?
Much has been said about an alleged surge of mysterious lung ailments occurring across the country this summer, an ailment so mysterious that is almost exclusively restricted to the United States. Governors of states like Michigan, Massachusetts, and New York were quick to use the news story as an excuse to write outlandish executive orders banning flavored vapor products statewide.
And even though the FDA and the CDC have openly acknowledged that the vaping of contraband THC-enhanced cartridges are the cause of the outbreak, these vaping bans are being written to specifically target nicotine-based rather than THC-enhanced vapor products. Why? Because misguided parents would rather blame the vapor companies rather than their inadequate or non-existent parenting skills as the reason that their teenagers are vaping.
To be clear, only eleven states and the District of Columbia currently have legislation in place legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. Many other states allow limited use of medical cannabis under certain circumstances, but let’s be honest. The majority of these vaping teens are not vaping because of medical issues. They are vaping recreationally.
Meanwhile, the State of Wisconsin – “Ground Zero” for this so-called vaping-related lung injury outbreak – does not legalize marijuana for any purpose - medical, recreational, or otherwise. Even in those eleven states where weed is legalized for recreational use, it is still illegal for a minors to use, purchase, sell, or possess marijuana in any form.
It’s also blatantly illegal for underage teens to vape conventional, FDA-regulated, nicotine-based vapor products, too. All vapor products are For Adults Only. And yes, that includes JUUL.
Therefore, any teenager using THC-enhanced or nicotine-based vapor products of any kind is technically breaking the law. That teenager is a criminal, pure and simple. But are they also a victim?
Where are the parents of these delinquent children?
A couple of days ago, a new thread was created on Reddit entitled, “You can now sue Ecigarette companies for bad parenting?”
One of the more eye-catching responses came from Mad_Hattie. “When do they sue hard liquor companies for fruit flavored alcohols or sue Doritos for making their kid fat?” A couple of posts later, he/she then said, “Once upon a time, parents actually did their job.”
This response got me thinking. I was one of those criminal children, but in my day, the illegal substance was Big Tobacco cigarettes and alcohol. My father smoked Marlboros incessantly. My mother smoked Virginia Slims. Both parents also drank like fish.
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My older brothers were also smokers. In fact, the first time I remember seeing my oldest brother smoking was when he was about thirteen years old and I was only six. I, too, started smoking at a young age, but I managed to hold out until I was sixteen. By the way, I also landed in Alcoholic Anonymous before I was thirty years old.
Was I the victim of poor parenting? HELL, YES I WAS! But I also blame myself.
Let’s be honest. Kids know the difference between right and wrong by the time they hit first grade, maybe second. Any middle schooler or high schooler certainly knows the difference. If they CHOOSE to do something wrong, such as engaging in the criminal behavior of illegal, underage vaping, that’s their decision, and they must suffer the consequences of their actions…if their parents are doing “their job.”
When Erin and Jared NesSmith filed a lawsuit in May 2019 claiming that Juul Labs was somehow responsible for their 15-year old daughter’s vaping habit, Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University of Public Health labeled the lawsuit as “patently ridiculous.” I tend to agree with Dr. S. Not only is the lawsuit frivolous, the NesSmiths may be victimizing their daughter even further by implicitly teaching the young adult that blaming others for your own actions is always a viable option.
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