Los Angeles vape companies will pay fines and endure marketing restrictions after investigation reveals they’ve been selling to minors.
NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC, both Los Angeles-based companies, have reached a settlement with the city’s attorney’s office, agreeing not to promote their products to minors. Los Angeles prosecutors alleged the companies were marketing to underaged buyers and selling products online without verifying buyers’ ages. City Attorney Mike Feuer said, “members of his office posed as 15-year-olds and were able to buy nicotine products.”
Under the settlement, the companies can’t “advertise on media platforms directed to minors, sponsor music or sports events and their advertising can’t use celebrities, influencers or models under 30 or those who have large youth followings.”
In 2018, Newhere Inc, d/b/a Mad Hatter Juice Box, also received a warning letter from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for “false and misleading” marketing. The letter reads:
“FDA’s investigation of the website http://www.madhatterjuice.com revealed that it sells or distributes One Mad Hit Juice Box e-liquid with labeling and/or advertising that causes it to imitate a food or beverage, particularly one that is marketed toward, and/or appealing to, children…Specifically, the labeling and/or advertising of the product looks very similar to the labeling and/or advertising for juice boxes that are commonly marketed toward children…For example, the labeling and/or advertising for One Mad Hit Juice Box e-liquid includes statements and representations, such as ‘Juice Box,’ ‘juicy apple juice,’ ‘A Juicebox a Day Keeps the Doctor Away,’ ‘Serving Size 1 bottle,’ and ‘real red apples,’ as well as a label on the back that is substantially similar to a food Nutrition Facts label. In addition, the labeling and/or advertising of One Mad Hit Juice Box e-liquid includes: the appearance of folded over and sealed top corners of the product’s packaging that is substantially similar to the aseptic, shelf-stable packages in which juice boxes are sold; an image of a straw wrapped in clear plastic affixed to the side of the packaging; images of apples and apple trees; and a color scheme that is substantially similar to…juice boxes…Further, One Mad Hit Juice Box e-liquid has a strong scent like apple juice. This labeling and/or advertising causes the product to imitate a food or beverage, particularly one that is marketed toward, and/or appealing to, children and is therefore misleading.”
Because of the resemblance between the company’s products and food and beverage items (i.e., apple juice), the FTC indicated that minors were at risk of making a purchase without understand the consequences. The letter reads further: “Children are at particular risk for ingesting e-liquid products with labeling and/or advertising that causes the product to imitate a food or beverage, particularly a food or beverage that is typically marketed toward, and/or appealing to, children. Moreover, children are at particular risk because exposure to the nicotine in the e-liquid product, even in relatively small amounts, could result in acute toxicity. Child poisonings due to the ingestion of liquid nicotine have recently increased substantially. Severe harms can occur in small children from ingestion of liquid nicotine, including death from cardiac arrest, as well as seizure, coma, and respiratory arrest.”
Both companies will also have to pay fines of $350,000.