RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - North Carolina’s attorney general is suing JUUL saying the company designed and marketed its e-cigarettes to attract younger customers.
Attorney General Josh Stein also said JUUL misrepresented the potency and danger of nicotine in its products.
Stein said that is a violation of North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
North Carolina is the first state to take legal action against JUUL, according to the Attorney General's Office.
“JUUL targeted young people as customers. As a result, vaping has become an epidemic among minors,” said Stein. “JUUL's business practices are not only reckless, they're illegal. And I intend to put a stop to them. We cannot allow another generation of young people to become addicted to nicotine.”
JUUL holds 75-percent of the e-cig market and use of their product is "rampant and growing among middle and high school students."
In the lawsuit, JUUL is accused of deliberately designed flavors and its chemical composition to appeal to a younger customer.
"The company marketed its products to youth on social media platforms and through the use of youth-oriented sponsors and social media influencers," Stein's office said.
The company is also accused of understating the strength of nicotine in its e-cigs.
Stein’s office said refillable JUUL inserts contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, arsenic, and acetone.
"The health risks of nicotine exposure and vaping include dramatic changes in the brain, lung inflammation, COPD, respiratory disorders, addiction, long-term behavioral changes, and an increased likelihood of future drug misuse," Stein's office said.
Stein began to investigate JUUL in fall 2018.
JUUL released a statement following Stein's announcement:
“While we have not yet seen the complaint, 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. We strongly advocate for T21 legislation, we stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol based flavored JUULpods to our traditional retail store partners, enhanced our online age-verification process, strengthened our retailer compliance program with over 2,000 secret shopper visits per month, and shut down our Facebook and Instagram accounts while working constantly to remove inappropriate social media content generated by others on those platforms. Finally, we continue to develop technologies to further restrict underage access."