UPDATED 5:23 PM PT — Tuesday, November 19, 2019
New York is now the third U.S. state to sue Juul, the e-cigarette industry under fire regarding negative health effects linked with vaping. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the lawsuit Tuesday, accusing the e-cigarette giant of tricking minors into vaping with deliberate ads that would attract underage users.
“There is no doubt that Juul — the largest e-cigarette company — has caused this addiction,” stated James. “In fact, they hold 70 percent of the market — that’s why today we are taking action by announcing a comprehensive lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc.”
BREAKING: I filed a lawsuit against @JUULvapor.
JUUL has allegedly engaged in deceptive marketing practices targeting minors and misled consumers about both the nicotine content and safety of its products.
They've put countless New Yorkers at risk & we won't stand for it. pic.twitter.com/szuU0M5e0n
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) November 19, 2019
A recent national youth tobacco survey reported approximately 4.1 million high school students and 1.2 million middle school students currently use e-cigarettes. A third of those high schoolers admitted they didn’t even realize vapes contained nicotine.
James has stated that Juul misled buyers with false information and used special tactics to make their product appealing to teenagers.
“Juul basically took a page from big tobacco’s playbook by marketing its products in a manner that was appealing to underage youth,” she said. “It misrepresented the safety and the therapeutic value of its products by saying they were safer than cigarettes.”
New York was hit hard by the epidemic. The state’s Department of Health has confirmed one death and over 100 vaping-related illnesses. The death of a 17-year-old Bronx teenager pushed James to act on the situation. She believed the damage caused by the ad campaigns effected millions and said Juul should be held responsible.
“The death of that 17-year-old young gentleman in the Bronx just made up my mind that we need to move forward — we need to move forward aggressively, extensively, comprehensively,” said James. “We don’t need to be convinced by any advocates or any other lobbyists — we did it because it was in the interest of justice.”
New York appears to be following in the footsteps of California and North Carolina, who have filed lawsuits against Juul in recent months. Health officials have so far confirmed 42 deaths and 2,000 others linked to vaping-related illnesses nationwide.
The attention even caused the CDC to start a criminal probe into the epidemic, where they have found a potential suspect for the vape related illnesses: Vitamin E Acetate. The chemical has been mainly used in illicit THC vaping products, but the CDC is still strongly encouraging the public to stay away from vaping until researches discover more information.