Pennsylvania officials take Juul to court in effort to keep products away from teens

Justin Udo
February 10, 2020 - 4:54 pm
Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro announces the state is suing Juul at Radnor High School.

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Pennsylvania attorney general's office sued electronic cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs Inc. on Monday over how its products are marketed and sold to teenagers. 

The agency is seeking an injunction from Philadelphia courts to halt Juul's e-cigarette sales in Pennsylvania or force it to dramatically change business practices.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro made the announcement of the suit at Radnor High School in front of an auditorium full of students.

"Young people like you are their targets, and sadly, they've succeeded in getting lots of you fellow students across this country hooked on their product," Shapiro said.

Shapiro says in addition to using different flavors to lure teens, the company also messed with the chemical makeup of their product to hook users.

"They knowingly engineered their devices to have more nicotine than cigarettes, and they did this while insisting publicly that the opposite was true," he said.

He says those tactics worked and helped the company experience a meteoric rise.

"Back in 2017, just 12% of minors were vaping, and that number jumped to 21% in 2018 and 30% last year," he explained. 

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The suit against Juul is asking for the court to stop the sale of e-cigarettes across the state until the product is proven to be safe.

"They've got high powered lawyers and lobbyists and they have an enormous and growing market share, but I for one will not tolerate their deceptive marketing strategies," Shapiro said. 

The suit is also demanding the company make their product more transparent, that they stop marketing to young people, and that the company stops marketing e-cigarettes as safe and healthy.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states, including New York, Minnesota and California. The lawsuits come as health officials are investigating deaths and illnesses tied to some vaping products. 

There have been 61 confirmed and 59 probable cases of vaping products associated lung injury in Pennsylvania, with patients typically in their mid-20s, according to the state Health Department. There also has been one death in the state. 

Juul has not responded to KYW Newsradio's requests for comment. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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