North Carolina escalates fight against e-cigarette companies

North Carolina escalates fight against e-cigarette companies
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North Carolina is expanding its efforts to combat e-cigarette addiction and will file lawsuits against eight e-cigarette companies for allegedly marketing their products to children, state Attorney General Josh Stein (D) announced on Tuesday.

Stein said the companies are aggressively targeting children with candy- and dessert-like flavors and do not require appropriate age verification. He is asking the courts to prohibit the companies from selling their products in North Carolina.

“One look at their marketing materials demonstrates just how egregious their sales tactics are — with flavors like cotton candy, gummy bear, unicorn, and graham cracker, they’re clearly targeting young people,” Stein said. “To teenagers, the health and addiction risks of vaping are simply too high.”

E-cigarette companies are facing pressure from federal regulators and lawmakers as health authorities struggle to deal with what they have called an epidemic of vaping among young people.

In May, North Carolina became the first state to sue e-cigarette giant Juul for its role in the unprecedented surge in youth vaping. Juul accounts for about 75 percent of the e-cigarette market.

Stein said Juul marketed its products to youth on social media platforms and through the use of youth-oriented sponsors and social media influencers. 

He also accused Juul of using lax age verification techniques for online purchases that allowed people to avoid or circumvent age requirements.