The District of Columbia is suing vaping giant Juul based on the allegation that it illegally targets children and knowingly misleads buyers about the nicotine levels of its e-cigarettes.
According to the lawsuit filed by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, “Juul was specifically designed and marketed with an eye towards addicting underage non-smokers. Juul developed flavor profiles, such as mango, coco mint, and fruit medley, that were tailored towards kids.”
The company, mainly accused of “unfair and unconscionable youth-oriented product design and marketing campaigns,” allegedly changed the chemical composition of its product, aiming at making it less irritating and more addictive for minors.
To support the claim, the lawsuit stated that an e-cigarette developed by Juul was designed to be unnoticeable and easy to hide in a backpack or even a back pocket.
Racine said in his complaint that the company’s marketing policy also intended to lure underage users into buying its products.
“It engaged in a highly coordinated marketing campaign, including the use of launch parties, advertisements using trendy-looking young models, social media posts, and free samples, knowing that it was addicting teenagers and securing a long-term consumer base that would be hard-pressed to kick the habit,” the lawsuit said.
The company is also accused of deceptively hiding the actual strength of its nicotine pods, misrepresenting their effect as a tool to quit smoking and claiming they were safe. In addition, it is claimed to have violated D.C. law by enabling underage users to buy e-cigarettes online via “its ineffective age-verification system.”
Juul Labs is known as the largest e-cigarette producer in the country. A spokesman representing the firm told the media on Tuesday that their products were meant for adults and that they were committed to fighting underage vaping, according to AP.
Racine’s lawsuit followed similar ones filed by attorneys general in New York and California last week.