Nov. 20 (UPI) — New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Tuesday against e-cigarette maker Juul, alleging deceptive business practices and illegal sales to minors.
“There can be no doubt that Juul’s aggressive advertising has significantly contributed to the public health crisis that has left youth in New York and across the country addicted to its products,” James said in a statement.
“By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, Juul is putting countless New Yorkers at risk. I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth.”
Juul previously announced it would suspend sales of its fruit- and mint-flavored products as scrutiny of the company increased. It also suspended its U.S. ad campaign and announced a restructuring plan aimed at reducing and preventing underage use.
“While we have not yet reviewed the complaint, we remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes,” Juul said in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges that Juul misled customers with advertising that claimed its products were a safer alternative to cigarettes and failed to include warnings that the products contain nicotine.
Moreover, the suit says the company also appealed to minors by using “bright, colorful ads and fruity, sweet-tasting flavors.” It also alleges the company reached out to young people at launch parties and on social media.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey, released this month, found that 27.5 percent of high schoolers and 10.5 percent of middle schoolers reported current e-cigarette use.
The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, follows a similar lawsuit filed Monday in California. In September, the Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to Juul in reference to its alleged marketing to teenagers.
The lawsuit asks for the company to stop deceptive and illegal practices alleged and to pay fines.