New York sues Juul, says e-cigarette maker helped create vaping epidemic

New York

FILE – In this Dec. 20, 2018, file photo Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York. Philip Morris and Altria have ended merger talks and JUUL’s CEO is stepping down from the top post as criticism over vaping continues to intensify. The companies confirmed last month that they were in discussions, more than a decade after splitting itself into two companies. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

New York is suing the electronic cigarette company JUUL Labs, Inc. for deceptive marketing by misrepresenting its products as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Attorney General Letitia James said Juul contributed to a youth vaping epidemic in New York by engaging in deceptive business practices. The suit also alleges Juul misled consumers by failing to warn that their products contain nicotine.

At a press conference Tuesday, James said the company sold its products to minors through its website and in third-party retail stores, causing large numbers of New York youth to become addicted to nicotine.

New York is the third state to sue Juul. On Monday, California’s attorney general filed legal action against the multibillion-dollar vaping startup that has been widely blamed for helping spark the teen vaping craze.

North Carolina sued Juul in May. Illinois, Massachusetts and several other states are also investigating the company.

A Juul spokesman said the company’s intended customers are adult smokers, adding “we do not intend to attract underage users.”

Under intense pressure, the company has suspended its U.S. advertising and halted sales of all but two of its flavors, menthol and tobacco. Additionally, the company shuttered its social media accounts, tightened age verification for online sales and replaced its CEO.

San Francisco-based Juul is the best-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S controlling roughly two-thirds of the retail market.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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