RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced Tuesday that he is suing the founders of an e-cigarette maker over his concerns that their product is being marketed to children through kid-friendly flavors and poor age verification.
Stein announced at a news conference that he is suing Juul founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen. He also said he is launching a statewide investigation into several e-cigarette manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
“All companies and individuals involved in manufacturing, distributing and selling e-cigarettes in North Carolina should hear this message loud and clear,” Stein said. “If you get North Carolina's teens addicted to nicotine, there will be consequences.”
In June, Juul Labs Inc. was to pay $40 million to North Carolina and take more action to prevent underage use and sales under the terms of an agreement with the state. Stein had sued Juul previously, accusing it of employing unfair and deceptive practices that targeted young people to use its vaping products, which deliver addictive nicotine. The lawsuit was scheduled to be heard in July.
A Juul spokesman had no immediate comment on the latest lawsuit.
Stein also targeted another e-cigarette company that he said sells kid-friendly flavors such as chocolate milk and strawberry doughnut. He also said his investigation would look into retailers statewide which are located near middle schools and high schools who are selling e-cigarettes, three distributors and one online seller.
The attorney general said he would urge Robert Califf, nominated to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration by President Joe Biden, to create national, industry-wide regulations on flavored e-cigarettes.