The state of New York on Nov. 19 sued e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, alleging the company “glamorized vaping” to youth “while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit a day after California announced a similar lawsuit against Juul, following a North Carolina lawsuit in May. Illinois, Massachusetts, and several other states are also investigating the company.
“Juul basically took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook by marketing its products in a manner that was appealing to underage youth,” said James. “It misled consumers about the nicotine content of Juul’s products. It misrepresented the safety and the therapeutic value of its products by saying they were safer than cigarettes and suggesting that consumers make the switch. When in reality, Juul’s products contain significant amounts of nicotine and are not cessation devices.”
Juul, the U.S. market leader in e-cigarettes, has come under intense scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and attorneys general over the surging popularity of its products among teenagers in recent years.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages to cover the costs of treating vaping related illnesses as well as civil penalties.
A Juul spokesman said the company’s intended customers are adult smokers, adding “we do not intend to attract underage users.”
Under intense pressure, the company has suspended its U.S. advertising and halted sales of all but two of its flavors, menthol and tobacco. Additionally, the company shuttered its social media accounts, tightened age verification for online sales and replaced its CEO.
San Francisco-based Juul is the best-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S controlling roughly two-thirds of the retail market.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.