Juul Sued by California for Marketing E-Cigarettes to Teens

A person smokes a Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarette. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) --Juul Labs Inc. was sued by California for allegedly targeting teenagers with advertisements for its e-cigarettes.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the lawsuit at a news conference Monday in Los Angeles.

“Juul adopted the tobacco industry’s infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets,” Becerra said in a statement. “Today we take legal action against the deceptive practices that Juul and the e-cigarette industry employ to lure our kids into their vaping web.”

The San Francisco-based e-cigarette company has become a target of government regulators attempting to stem an epidemic of new, young nicotine users who have flocked to the sleek device despite never having used cigarettes, in many cases.

In the California suit, Becerra alleges that Juul targeted young people in its advertising, failed to include required warnings, knowingly delivered tobacco products to consumers without properly verifying their age, kept the personal e-mails of minors who attempted and failed to make a purchase, and proceeded to market Juul to them.

Juul had no immediate comment on the suit.

Read More: Juul, Altria Sued Over E-Cig Marketing as Legal Claims Mount

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said at the news conference that the lawsuit seeks to make Juul pay for the cost of addiction treatment as well as for prevention.

The lawsuit comes as a host of plaintiffs sue Juul. School districts across the U.S. have filed federal suits claiming an economic burden imposed on them by teen vaping and a public nuisance from the health problems vaping can bring. Juul also faces more than 40 suits in state courts. Some of the plaintiffs are parents who claim their children got addicted to nicotine by using e-cigarettes.

Juul dominates the U.S. market for e-cigarettes. Its vaporizer has been particularly popular with younger users. Altria Group Inc., which makes and markets Marlboro cigarettes in the U.S., invested about $13 billion in the closely held company last year in exchange for a 35% stake. Altria isn’t named as a defendant in the suit

As of Nov. 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 42 deaths of patients tied to e-cigarette or vaping product use, with a further 2,172 cases of associated lung injury reported nationwide. Four of the deaths were patients in California, according to a statement from the attorney general.

(Updates with details of allegations in fifth paragraph and with second section)
–With assistance from Ellen Huet.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at [email protected];
Erik Larson in New York at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at [email protected]
Peter Jeffrey

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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