Via America’s LawyerMike Papantonio and Trial Lawyer Magazine editor Farron Cousins discuss the fast-growing health concerns about Juul and other vaping devices. Plus, Mike Papantonio is joined by legal journalist Mollye Barrows to talk about the rampant issue of sexual assault within our armed forces. While the media has been quick to jump on stories of Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, and Jeffrey Epstein, it seems little thought is given to the toxic culture of sexual abuse among our men and women in uniform.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Recently, the CEO of Juul e-cigarettes issued a halfhearted apology to parents whose teens became addicted to nicotine thanks to his company’s products. But the truth is that just like tobacco, this was all part of the plan. Joining me to talk about this is Farron Cousins who just finished an incredible cover story for the national trial lawyer magazine. You’ve been following this a long time. Farron, first thing that comes to my mind, you know, as you know, we, our law firm handled the tobacco litigation. We wrote the first legislation about it that was used all over the country. So we know these cats pretty bad, pretty well, you know, it’s a bad bunch of cats I guess. Give me your take on these people that are showing up with illnesses and couple of deaths already.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah, just in the last week or so, we have seen I think a 193 different people across 22 different states. One of them in Illinois, a man is dead now and it’s because of some kind of mysterious vaping related, they believe, disease. But the reason we start by saying that is because now we got to go back and talk about what’s going on with vaping? And on the federal level from the federal government, the answer is really not much at all. There are few regulations, if any, on what can be in these vaping liquids. What goes in there, what people are consuming, how much nicotine it can have, and now after we’ve been warning for years about the lack of regulations, now we’re starting to see the consequences and they have piled up in the last year.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay, yeah, let me back up. We started doing this story three or four years ago. As soon as it came on the market, we said, look, here are the problems, and then the problem is you have this cult. I don’t know how to, it’s like this cult.

Farron Cousins:                  It really is.

Mike Papantonio:             I call it, I call it, it’s just so weird. We do a story. We say, look, look, God bless you if you want to vape, I don’t care. But you need to know what the problems are. And the problems are, it’s not just the nicotine, it’s all the other chemicals that are in, that are included in that liquid that you’re vaping.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s the fact that you have no, your body has no magnitude response. In other words, if you’re smoking a cigarette, you’re, you know, you smoke too much, you get respiratory issues. You kinda, you, you, you’d get the light-headedness coming on. Not with vaping because it’s coming in your system so bad. So here’s the point, you know, I know doing this story, all the, you know, all the, all these people are going to come out, how dare you talk about vaping, vaping, because it is a cult. I swear it, it is a cult and that’s, that’s the way they’ve built this, isn’t it? They built it with kids primarily.

Farron Cousins:                  It is, it’s become its own little subculture here in the United States. They have vaping competitions. They have conventions and of course these conventions are sponsored by the vaping companies. You have people out there who swear that vaping has saved their, because it got them off regular cigarettes, but at the same time they’re saying, well, we’ll you guys attacking vapes, you’re, you’re doing Big Tobacco’s job. But the truth is, a lot of these Big Tobacco companies, including Juul, they’ve bought shares of these companies. No, you, you vapors, you’re doing Big Tobacco’s job because they own these products as well.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, Big Tobacco owns them. I mean, really, when you get to the point where you can’t objective really listened to a story, Big Tobacco owns you. We, we saw, look it’s it, it crosses generation. Happened to the baby boomers when we first started the tobacco litigation, we were the villain because we uncovered all these documents that showed that they had hired doctors to tell the lie. They created literature that told the lie. They phonied up, they phonied up epidemiology to tell the lie. Same things happen here. So that was baby boomer generation. Okay. Now you’ve got young baby boomers and millennials that are part of the cult and nothing’s different. You know, they want to say we’re different than mom and dad. We’re clear thinkers. We’re, we, we certainly can see it. All you gotta do is look at the science here. Okay. You look at the chemicals that are included in there. How about this? What about the fact that in different parts of the country you have independent vaping companies that mix their own chemicals? Talk about that.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, see, and that’s a big part of the problem and this could be what’s linked to all these vaping illnesses we see. And before you and I talked here, I spent a good amount of time today going through the FDA’s regulation website for tobacco and e-liquid and e-cigarettes and vapes and all that. There was not a single thing I could find going through their website on regulations about any form of federal regulation on what can or cannot go into these vaping liquids. So, these people who are out there independently mixing these, you know, you walk into one of those vape shops that pops up on the corner every five months these days, they’re mixing them in house. So you’re putting your life, your lungs, in the hand of some random person behind the counter who says, oh, let me give you, this will taste good. But there’s heavy metals. There is diacetyl. We know that there are cancer causing compounds as well, and whatever else this person you don’t know is sticking into that liquid that you then heat to 400 or 500 degrees in a matter of, you know, milliseconds and put it into your lungs and people are out there swearing, yelling at us, telling us that this is the safest thing in the world.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, what, what it is, it is, it’s, it’s, it’s self actualization. They, they want to believe it, therefore they won’t, it’s like a, it’s like talking to a Republican about a bad policy. No, I’m a Republican. It’s tribal, isn’t it?

Farron Cousins:                  It is.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean, it’s, it’s almost cult like. You see with the Democrats, you see it with Republicans, we’re in that right now. I see the same thing happening here. Look, here, here’s the point. Got about 30 seconds left. They’ve got ollie ollie orange. They’ve got bubblegum, they’ve gotten, they’ve got all these kids’ tastes trying to go after the kids. They’ve even market them where they put them on the shelf to go after children. The type of marketing they do is colors. It’s all going after children. But really it’s not just the kids that go so crazy when we talk about this case.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             It is, it is adults who should have enough sense to be able to think for themselves rather than having the industry think for them. And apparently that’s, that’s what happens here.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, you know, and the bottom line is this, if this is what you’re choosing to do, fantastic. You do that, that is your choice. You have the right to do that. But don’t try to convince yourself or convince other people that we know these things are safe. All the science that has been coming out in the short decade these things have been available, has not been flattering for vapes.

Mike Papantonio:             This story, I tell you, but we’re going to see it with this story. We, how dare we talk about the fact that this stuff’s dangerous.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and eventually the documents will come too, and it will show everything we’re saying.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. We’ll be in trial with the documents.

Mike Papantonio:             The past couple of years of media coverage have been riddled with stories of survivors sharing their stories of sexual abuse from Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, to disgraced physician Larry Nasser to the horrific allegations against the late financial guy, Jeffrey Epstein, who we see all the time.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Look this, this story now continues with the military.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean this is the other new part of it.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Is the military.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Talk to me about it. How bad, the me too element has fit into this, finally. We’re talking about this…

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Finally, and tell me how bad it is.

Mollye Barrows:                It’s bad. I think it’s been an ongoing problem for decades Pap. Everyone’s known about it. The Department of Defense has certainly known about it. All branches of the military are impacted by sexual assault, sexual harassment, and also played with the problem of really not being able to find an effective way to grapple with it and deal with it. They see the impact when they finally do have people come forward and report at the VA’s office or within military ranks when they’re suffering from PTSD or other problems, but it is such a pervasive issue. Now as far as the exact number, they don’t exactly know because they believe a lot of these cases are under reported, under reported rather. But, the department of defense did an anonymous survey and they sent it out to all branches of the military for 2018. Based on that anonymous survey, the results were 20,500 cases of reported sexual either assault or some sort of harass, but it was a majority of some sort of sexual assault.

And so, the majority who they found that was a, and it’s not just women, one of the least talked about parts of this is men on men sexual assault, which is an added degree of shame and humiliation, if you will, for the victim as to not come forward. But they did find in this latest survey that among the most vulnerable were women 17 to 24 because most of what they found is that these women were being attacked by people that they already knew, either superior officers or people that they were already in close contact with. And that’s what they’re learning. At least, even though these results are anonymous, they can at least say, okay, at least they feel comfortable in this environment reporting. It’s giving us an idea of what is happening, when this is occurring, how they can deal with it. So they know the problem that exists. It’s just been a hard time getting a change in the culture to where they feel comfortable reporting it because…

Mike Papantonio:             Doesn’t…

Mollye Barrows:                Sometimes when they report it, nothing happens.

Mike Papantonio:             Doesn’t part of it, doesn’t part of it have to change with women becoming a, with, with them treating women as equally as they can both in rank and things like special ops.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             You know, there are plenty of women that, you know, I’ve known in my lifetime that could sit in and be part of special op kind of training. And the more that, the more that they’re centered in these various things.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Whether its ranking, whether special operations, those types of things. Then this, this does, it, it does affect the amount of, of abuse that we’re seeing. But I’m really wondering what, what’s fueling this, this problem? It’s been, and we’re talking about it now, but it’s been around…

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             A long time. We did the tail hook stories.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             I think you did them.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             When you an anchor. A news anchor.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes, yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             The tail hook story started then, we started taking a look at it. But what, what’s fueling it now?

Mollye Barrows:                I think it’s a culture of silence like you see in a lot of institutions, but what makes the military perhaps even more vulnerable to this is like you said, that you know historically forever, we haven’t really had women necessarily in the ranks to this extent that we’ve seen in the last few decades. But aside from that, the very way that it’s put together, you have unit cohesion and almost like officers in a law enforcement unit. It’s your partner, but extend that wider out to the all the people that are in your unit. And if someone does something to you and you tell on them, even if it was a crime, like a, a sexual assault or rape or some sort of assault, if you tell on that person, especially if it’s a superior officer, then there’s this general feeling that you have betrayed the ranks. You’re no longer somebody that we can trust. And it’s almost like it takes out the poison. You’re labeled with the baby and the bathwater. Throw out the person who’s complaining.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Mollye Barrows:                As opposed to dealing with the problem.

Mike Papantonio:             So, so…

Mollye Barrows:                Or the source of it.

Mike Papantonio:             So I saw handling on this on something that I read not long ago where it was talking about Israeli military where everybody’s required to be in the military. It’s like requirement.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes, yes.

Mike Papantonio:             And the, the assimilation of females into the military has, hasn’t been totally seamless, but it’s been a lot more seamless than what we’re seeing here in the United States. Because there’s no distinctions. In other words, if somebody wants to work with Mossad, if they want to…

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Work at the highest ranks of military engagement in special operations, and I mean there’s no hold back. There’s opportunity across the board.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             I think of that, it was an old movie, it was called GI Jane something, something such as that.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes, I remember that.

Mike Papantonio:             And they were trying, they were trying to talk about this idea that we have to equalize, we have to equalize that part of the military before we ever start treating women like they should be treated in the military. But when I look at the Israeli experience and I look at what’s happening here in the United States, it’s, it’s different.

Mollye Barrows:                In other studies that they’ve done in other countries where they talk about basically putting men and women together in the military. They found that the better the integration, the fewer reported incidents of sexual assault. Because like you’re talking about, think it goes to that idea of you’re treating somebody like an equal or maybe even going back to the idea of a healthy unit. If you’re all working together, when you know somebody, you’re less inclined to believe stereotypes about them or you’re less inclined to lump them into your a less than category.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Mollye Barrows:                So they found that, they think that that’s part of it. But part of it too, is just getting in there and feeling like you’re not, you know, that you’ve got some rights, making it easy to report, making it easier to investigate, and then you have a whole other element, which is a whole other topic about military law and how that helps keep a lot of these cases from coming to light.

Mike Papantonio:             Let’s pick up with that another time.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes

Mike Papantonio:             Mollye, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Mollye Barrows:                Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.