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Vaping company Juul is the target of a lawsuit by the California Attorney General. (iStock)

California Sues Vaping Company Juul Over Underage Marketing And Privacy Violations

Juul and the vaping industry have a hard road ahead in both California and the rest of the country

By Evan Symon, November 19, 2019 1:41 pm

It’s been a rough year for the vaping industry. The number of vaping related deaths has skyrocketed. Vaping bans have been enacted all over California, as well as the country.

The finding of Vitamin E Acetate in vaping products, caused over 2,000 lung injuries nationwide. Flavored vaping products have been widely accused of targeting minors. And on Tuesday came another huge blow: California would be suing the largest vaping company, Juul, in the largest vaping lawsuit to date.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and the County of Los Angeles announced on Tuesday that Juul we be sued over a multitude of reasons, including failing to warn customers of the health dangers of vaping, not checking the age of people who bought their products (selling to minors), targeted underage people with advertisements and other marketing tools, and kept underage users info, most notably their e-mail addresses.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

“We’ve worked too hard, committed our hard-earned money for too long combating harmful tobacco use to stand idly by as we now lose Californians to vaping and nicotine addiction,” stated California Attorney General Becerra. “JUUL adopted the tobacco industry’s infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets. 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. We will hold JUUL and any other company that fuels a public health crisis accountable.”

Those at the announcement also went into some of Juul’s tactics, including giving free samples to underage users. There were also several notable figures announced, including 1 out of 10 high school students in Los Angeles County currently vaping, and the number of high school students nationwide vaping going from 11.7 percent in 2017 to 27.5 percent in 2019. The dramatic numbers were largely tied with Juul.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey. (Wikipedia)

“JUUL and other nicotine product makers must be held accountable when they knowingly fail to take the necessary protective measures and allow the sale of nicotine products to underage buyers.” said District Attorney Lacey.

Juul, as well as other vaping companies, have tried to counteract several years of findings against them. They have stopped selling many flavors, and buyers will soon need to scan their ID to verify their age. They also note that vaping has been touted by attorney generals, regulators, and other officials in the past as a way to stop smoking.

The lawsuit may have a far-reaching impact outside of Juul too. Some flavored tobacco and vaping products have actually been approved by the FDA as ‘modified risk tobacco products’, meaning that they can help people wishing to stop smoking.

Proponents of Juul and similar products say the ban won’t just target and hurt Juul, but also Snus, a moist powder smokeless tobacco product, and the only product to receive Modified Risk Tobacco Product status from the FDA, as well as ZYN, a smoke-free, spit-free, tobacco-free nicotine pouch, which some say is even more mild than Snus.

The language and threat of a fine or worse may stop companies from producing these products, or, since they were approved by the FDA, it could rise to be a federal problem. It should be noted that this is unlikely, as the Trump Administration has been largely in favor of vaping restrictions.

The lawsuit is expected to be resolved sometime next year. More flavored vaping and outright vaping bans are also expected next year in more cities in California and across the United States.

Evan Symon
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