N.C. Attorney General Sues Founders of Juul

Stein also launches investigation into Puff Bar, asks FDA commissioner nominee to protect children from e-cigarettes
North Carolina Department of Justice building in Raleigh, N.C.
Photograph: Shutterstock

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is suing the founders of Juul and taking a series of other actions against the e-cigarette industry due to ongoing concerns about kid-friendly flavors, youth marketing and poor age verification, he announced on Nov. 16.

He is also launching a statewide investigation into e-cigarette retailers, distributors and manufacturers—including Puff Bar—and urging U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf to protect children from flavored e-cigarettes.

Stein is suing Juul founders, including James Monsees and Adam Bowen, alleging that they personally participated in Juul’s marketing strategy of attracting young users to their product and seeking civil penalties and damages.

Juul Labs Inc., San Francisco, in June agreed to pay $40 million in a settlement stemming from a 2019 lawsuit filed by Stein, where he alleged the maker of Juul e-cigarettes designed, marketed and sold its e-cigarettes to attract young people and misrepresented the potency and danger of nicotine in its products. Juul admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

Stein said Tuesday the people behind the company must be held accountable and pay to “clean up the mess they made.”

He is also launching a statewide investigation into other e-cigarette manufacturers, like Puff Bar, owned by Los Angeles-based Cool Clouds Distribution. The flavored disposable e-cigarette company has kid-friendly flavors that are filling the youth market Juul created, Stein said.

“The market Juul created still exists, and other companies are filling the vacuum,” Stein said. “We are actively investigating Puff Bar and other companies at all stages of the distribution chain, from manufacturers to retailers and everything in between to ensure they are not profiting off kids. Where I find illegal behavior, I will not hesitate to take legal action.”

A full list of the vape retail stores, distributors and online seller Stein is investigating can be found on the North Carolina Department of Justice’s website.

Finally, Stein is asking Califf to take strong action on flavors if he is confirmed to the position of FDA commissioner.

“Until the FDA acts to protect kids, we will all be playing whack-a-mole with these companies,” Stein said. “Taken together, my office’s work today underscores my commitment to fighting back against the way some companies put their greed before kids’ health. I will do everything in my power to protect our kids from nicotine addiction.”

Representatives from Juul and Puff Bar did not respond to CSP’s request for comment.

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