Last month, a 17-year-old Bronx boy became the youngest victim to die from a vaping-related lung illness.
New York State has had enough: As of November 13, 2019, New York State law was changed, making it illegal to sell nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, to consumers who are under 21-year-old.
And on Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit against the electronic cigarette company JUUL Labs, Inc., alleging deceptive and misleading marketing of its e-cigarettes is directly responsible for the ongoing youth vaping epidemic and nicotine addiction in New York State.
Close to one million NYC residents use e-cigarette products regularly, with 220,000 of those users under age 18, according to New York State Department of Health (DOH) estimates. To date, there have been 42 deaths and 2,172 cases of severe vaping-related illnesses nationwide, including 146 New Yorkers who have suffered vaping-related illnesses.
The lawsuit filed in New York County Supreme Court alleges that JUUL illegally sold its products to minors through its website and in third-party retail stores throughout the state. And JUUL’s ad campaign includes bright, colorful images of attractive, young models that appeal to underage residents.
“By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, JUUL is putting countless New Yorkers at risk,” said A.G. James. “I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth.”
The law suit points to General Business Law §§ 349 and 350, which prohibit deceptive acts and practices and false advertising; Common Law Public Nuisance, which prohibits substantial and unreasonable interference with the public health; and Executive Law § 63(12), which prohibits repeated and persistent fraud and illegality, based on violations of the New York Public Health Law prohibiting underage sales of tobacco products to minors.
Additionally, JUUL allegedly has violated the Federal Trade Commission Act §5 prohibiting unfair business practices that substantially injure consumers, and the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act 21 U.S.C. § 387k, prohibiting the introduction into interstate commerce of any modified risk tobacco product without an order from the Secretary of Health & Human Services.
“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,” said Attorney General James.