LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — California is suing Juul, the most well-known maker of vaping products, alleging the company targeted young people and failed to warn them about the risks of using them.
Juul claims its products are aimed only at adults, but the lawsuit filed against the San Francisco-based company alleges Juul targeted young people through advertising and did not warn them about the product’s chemical exposure and risks for cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm. The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, also claims Juul violated the privacy of minors by retaining personal email addresses that were submitted during the age verification process on their website for the purpose of sending marketing materials.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Supervisor Janice Hahn announced the lawsuit Monday.
“Juul adopted the tobacco industry’s infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets,” Becerra said in a statement. “Today we take legal action against the deceptive practices that Juul and the e-cigarette industry employ to lure our kids into their vaping web.”
The e-cigarette industry has been under fire since hospitals began taking note of vaping-related lung injuries this summer. As of Nov. 13, the CDC reported 42 deaths in patients with e-cigarette or vaping product use, out of 2,172 cases of associated lung injury nationwide. In California, four patients have died of vaping related causes.
“Juul has systematically targeted the teen market with everything from the design of their products to their advertising,” Hahn said in a statement.
Since the CDC began sounding the alarm about vaping-related lung injuries, some cities and local entities have responded by banning e-cigarette flavors and e-cigarettes altogether.
Juul has had to layoff hundreds of employees recently and faces $2,500 per violation – potentially millions of violations, according to Lacey. She said the only goal of the lawsuit is to stop Juul from targeting teenagers.