LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Two vaping companies targeted by the city of Los Angeles have now agreed to stop marketing their products to minors.
City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Friday that a settlement had been reached with NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC. As part of the settlement, the two companies said they would no longer market nicotine products to minors nor would they use celebrities under the age of 30 to endorse their products. The two companies also agreed to pay $175,000 each.
“This youth vaping issue is an epidemic,” Feuer said. “There are people who say that vaping should be dealt with as an urgent emergency, and I’m trying to send a message with this settlement that that urgency can’t be stated strongly enough and the intensity with which we pursue this is really up to us.”
As of Friday, eight people in the United States have died this year — including one from Los Angeles County — and more than 530 people have suffered vaping-related illnesses according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Thursday, Feuer called for a citywide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. He specifically referenced flavors like cereal, candy and fruits in products that he wants taken off the market.
A lawsuit filed last October alleged that NEwhere and VapeCo, as well as a third vaping company called Kandypens, used social media and marketing tactics to draw children to their products and failed to use child-resistant packaging.
Kandypens is still in ongoing litigation with the city.
Also on Friday, Walmart said it would stop selling e-cigarettes as soon as its current inventory runs out. The retail giant previously said it would stop selling flavored e-cigarette products that appeal to teens.