New York sues Juul, says e-cigarette giant ‘took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook’

Packages of Juul mint flavored e-cigarettes are displayed at San Rafael Smokeshop on November 07, 2019 in San Rafael, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

New York state is suing e-cigarette giant Juul, accusing the company of targeting teens, downplaying the presence of nicotine and hooking a generation on e-cigarettes, Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

James claims Juul “took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook,” targeting kids in advertising and allowing its products to be sold to minors. She alleges Juul misled consumers about its products’ nicotine content and misrepresented its products as safer than cigarettes.

“There is no doubt that Juul, the largest e-cigarette company, has caused this addiction,” James said at a news conference, referring to survey data showing a surge in teen vaping.

California earlier this week filed a lawsuit against Juul, claiming the company marketed to and illegally sold its e-cigarettes to minors. The state alleges sales records show Juul’s age-verification system allowed “thousands” of deliveries to “phony names and addresses” in California, including 17 shipments to an individual named “Beer Can.”

North Carolina filed its own lawsuit against Juul in May, accusing the company of targeting young people and downplaying the danger and potency of its products. Aside from the states, a number of counties, school districts and individuals are pursuing legal action against Juul, the market leading e-cigarette company that is widely blamed for fueling a teen vaping epidemic.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration are also investigating the company.

Juul did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. In response to California’s lawsuit, the company on Monday said, “While we have not yet reviewed the complaint, we remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes.”