The Florida Attorney General has initiated a lawsuit against the electronic-cigarette company Juul Labs, accusing the company of improperly marketing its products to children and providing misleading information about the nicotine content in its offerings.
The lawsuit was filed in Hillsborough County circuit court and seeks both civil penalties and an injunction to prevent Juul from targeting children through its marketing and product design, as well as from deceiving consumers regarding nicotine concentration. The lawsuit alleges that Juul violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
According to the lawsuit, Juul engaged in extensive marketing efforts targeted at underage users, such as hosting launch parties, using stylish and youthful models in advertisements, posting on social media, and distributing free product samples. The company also designed its products with a sleek, technology-focused appearance that could be easily concealed and offered flavors known to be appealing to underage consumers.
Additionally, Juul modified the chemical composition of its products to make the vapor less harsh for young, inexperienced users. To maintain its young customer base, Juul relied on age-verification methods that it knew were ineffective.
In response, Juul stated that the attorney general chose not to participate in a settlement reached between the company and 48 states and territories. Juul also highlighted the steps it has taken, including discontinuing the distribution of non-tobacco and non-menthol products in anticipation of FDA guidance on flavors, ending mass-market product advertising, and reorganizing the company with a focus on combating underage use. Juul claimed that, as a result of these efforts, underage usage of its products has decreased by 95%.