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N.C. Attorney General lawsuit takes aim at e-cigarette industry over ‘kid-friendly flavors’ and ‘youth marketing’

Josh Stein says he is suing Juul founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen
Juul, e-cigarette popular among teens, being investigated by FDA
Juul, e-cigarette popular among teens, being investigated by FDA
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 2:16 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced he is taking action against the e-cigarette industry.

Stein said he is taking aim at e-cigarettes because of ongoing concerns about “kid-friendly flavors, youth marketing and poor age verification.”

Stein says he is suing Juul founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen, announcing his statewide investigation into Puff Bar and other e-cigarette manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, and urging FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf to protect children from flavored e-cigarettes.

“We made major progress in protecting young people from e-cigarette addiction when we secured a court order dramatically changing the way Juul does business and recovering $40 million to help kids conquer their nicotine addiction,” Stein said. “But many of the billions Juul made from addicting kids to nicotine are now in the personal accounts of its founders and early investors. The people behind this company must be held accountable and paid to clean up the mess they made.

“At the same time, the market Juul created still exists, and other companies are filling the vacuum. We are actively investigating Puff Bar and other companies at all stages of the distribution chain, from manufacturers to retailers and everything in between to ensure they are not profiting off kids. Where I find illegal behavior, I will not hesitate to take legal action.

“Finally, I am urging FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf to create national, industry-wide regulations on flavors. Until the FDA acts to protect kids, we will all be playing whack-a-mole with these companies.

“Taken together, my office’s work today underscores my commitment to fighting back against the way some companies put their greed before kids’ health. I will do everything in my power to protect our kids from nicotine addiction.”

Attorney General Stein announced he is:

  • Filing a lawsuit against Juul’s founders, including James Monsees and Adam Bowen, alleging that they personally participated in Juul’s marketing strategy of attracting young users to their product, and seeking civil penalties and damages.
  • Announcing a statewide investigation into companies all along the e-cigarette industry’s distribution chain, due to ongoing concerns about flavors, age verification, and marketing. That includes investigations into:
  • Puff Bar, a company with kid-friendly flavors that is filling the youth market Juul created.
  • Retailers across North Carolina sell flavored e-cigarettes, including several located near middle and high schools.
  • Distributors that help e-cigarette manufacturers deliver their products to retailers.
  • Urging FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf to take strong action on flavors when he is confirmed.

Attorney General Stein is issuing civil investigative demands to 20 companies today, including:

  • Puff Bar
  • 15 vape retail stores
  • Three distributors
  • One online seller

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