New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the lawsuit Tuesday, saying the e-cigarette manufacturer deceived local teens.
E-cigarette manufacturer Juul is facing yet another lawsuit alleging that its marketing campaigns targeted teens and contributed to an uptick in nicotine addiction among America’s youth.
The latest lawsuit, reports NBC News, was filed by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. In a Tuesday announcement, James announced that New York is going after Juul for its purportedly “deceptive and misleading” marketing tactics.
“When Juul launched in 2015, New York consumers were introduced to the company through targeted launch parties,” James told reporters during a press conference.
“Juul engaged in direct outreach to high schoolers, to at least one New York City high school, where a Juul representative falsely stated to students that their products are safer than cigarettes,” she added.
James’ claim, says NBC, is based off congressional hearings and inquiries. A July probe, ordered by a House subcommittee, found that e-cigarette spokespeople spoke directly to under-age students at high school assemblies.
Juul, for its part, has spent much of the past year desperately trying to reconfigure the image. The company has supported state- and federal-level endeavors to impose further regulations on the vape industry, including bans on the sale of flavored nicotine pods. In fact, Juul’s vowed to stop advertising in the United States altogether.
But the company’s past continues to hound it. Juul is—far and away—the largest e-cigarette manufacturer and distributor in the U.S., by sales volume and market share. It’s long touted its products as a safe alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes.
However, Juul was hit with allegations of youth marketing even before the House revealed that its representatives actually went to high schools. Its vape devices were easily concealable, often resembling USB drives. And many of its pod flavors seemed designed for young palettes, with varieties including “mint,” “mango,” “fruit” and “crème.”
As e-cigarettes gradually took hold in the United States, nicotine use rates among teens and other adolescents began to rise—effectively ending nearly 20 years of decline.
Adam Fine, principal of East Hampton High School in Long Island, told NBC it’s obvious that vaping remains popular among youth.
“You’d be hard-pressed in my building—and I can generalize that possibly to other high schools—to find students who have not tried vaping,” Fine said.
James has explicitly linked Juul to underage nicotine abuse.
“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,” she said. “By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, Juul is putting countless New Yorkers at risk.”