North Carolina’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit Wednesday against popular e-cigarette producer Juul Labs, making it the first state to take legal action against the company.
The suit, filed in state court, alleges that Juul caused addiction in consumers by “deceptively downplaying the potency and danger of the nicotine” and employed advertising campaigns that targeted people under the legal smoking age.
Several of the state’s requests overlap with existing Food and Drug Administration policies, including prohibiting the sale of e-cigarette products to minors.
But the state’s complaint goes further: FDA guidelines restrict the sale of e-cigarettes with fruit or candy flavors in stores, allowing menthol, tobacco and mint to be sold.
North Carolina’s request would bar the mint flavor there, in addition to the popular flavors such as mango and cucumber.
All Juul flavors can be purchased online after customers verify their age on the Juul website. Joshua Stein, the North Carolina attorney general, hopes to restrict those sales, too, by preventing all customers in North Carolina from purchasing flavors online that aren’t tobacco or menthol.
And the state is asking the court to apply a marketing and advertising ban that mimics that of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement that went into effect in 1998.
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That would prevent the company from emails, advertising or social media marketing aimed at minors, among other actions.