State Attorney General Letitia James sued e-cigarette giant Juul Tuesday for allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing and sales tactics that targeted young people and contributed significantly to the rising national vaping crisis.
Juul “took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook” by engaging in deceptive business practices through marketing and advertising tactics and illegally selling products over the internet to minors, according to the suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The suit also charges Juul’s ad campaign misrepresented its products by hiring young, attractive models to portray “juuling” as a safer alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.
“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,” James said in a statement.
“By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, Juul is putting countless New Yorkers at risk. I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth.”
Juul knowingly violated a recent change in state law that now prohibits nicotine product sales to individuals under the age of 21 — before the law applied to consumers under 18, the suit claims.
Juul did not immediately return a request for comment.
New York State Department of Health officials recently admitted they still cannot pinpoint the cause behind the epidemic of lung-related illnesses connected to vaping.
DOH experts are examining 182 reported cases statewide that are related to severe pulmonary illnesses.
A National Youth Tobacco Survey found 4.1 million high schoolers and 1.2 million middle school kids use e-cigarettes.