RALEIGH, N.C.—North Carolina is suing eight vape companies, accusing them of using flavors, marketing strategies and inadequate age verification systems to sell to underage shoppers, reports CNBC.
The new actions follow the state’s May lawsuit filed against Juul, but goes after some of Juul’s smaller competitors, including Beard Vape, Direct eLiquid, Electric Lotus, Electric Tobacconist, Eonsmoke, Juice Man, Tinted Brew and VapeCo.
“There is a vaping epidemic among high schoolers and middle schoolers in North Carolina and the United States,” said Josh Stein, state attorney general. The lawsuits aim to “shut down their operations targeting young people in North Carolina.”
On a conference call announcing the lawsuits, Stein referenced an Eonsmoke ad on Instagram that he alleged was targeted at children. He noted that other companies have engaged in similar practices. Eonsmoke was also sued by the Massachusetts attorney general in May.
An attorney for Eonsmoke said the company “has had robust age verification for years and its typical customers are in their 20s and 30s,” even for flavored products. The lawsuits come as vaping and e-cigarette products are facing increased scrutiny for their impact on young people.
“We simply have no idea what the long-term health implications of these products are, and people who are using them are essentially turning themselves into guinea pigs,” said Stein, who added that the new cases are similar to the suit against Juul and that “discussions are ongoing” with Juul about possible injunctions in that case.
Juul said Tuesday it has shut down some of its social media accounts and enhanced its online age-verification process, among other measures.
“We share the Attorney General’s concerns about youth vaping, which is why we have been cooperating with his office and why we have taken the most aggressive actions of anyone in the industry to combat youth usage,” Juul announced.