Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is suing Juul Labs Inc. for their part in creating a public health crisis in Massachusetts, saying she wants the company that “started it all” held responsible. Healy claims that Juul has been using marketing techniques that target young people, such as recruiting celebrities that they look up to, placing ads on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, as well as in Seventeen Magazine.
According to the complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office, Juul even aided underage buyers in securing their purchases by recommending that they use a shipping address of a friend or family member in a jurisdiction where the age requirement was lower. This recommendation was given by a “Don” from the Juul Care Team via email after an order had been canceled due to failed age verification. It read, “The legal age to purchase nicotine products in Milton, MA is 21 years old and above. If you have friends or relatives in Quincy, MA, you may use their address as a shipping address for your order.”
The complaint also alleges that Juul is letting over 1000 buyers make accounts with clearly fake names such as “PodGod,” as well as use email addresses associated with high schools. The suit claims a complete lack of regard from Juul by selling to underage consumers.
Healy’s initial investigation into Juul’s underage advertising and selling was announced in July of 2018. According to this probe, Juul has purposely tried to hire young models and celebrities that would attract young people, such as Miley Cyrus or Kirsten Stewart.
A representative from Juul Labs Inc. responded to a Law360 reporter, saying they had not yet read the complaint submitted by the Attorney General’s Office, but have a goal of “resetting” the vapor industry and will work to cooperate with public officials in the fight against underage e-cigarette use. The suit is seeking damages that will cover the cost of the state’s investment in combating underage e-cigarette use, as well as the cost of treatment for people suffering the effects of using these products. Healy did not specify a damages amount.
Healy states that the company is “up to no good” and wants to make sure that they do the right thing for the kids and families who are being taken advantage of by the e-cigarette company.
The case is in the Business Litigation Session of the Suffolk County Superior Court, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Juul Labs Inc.
Juul should be held responsible for their part in the public health crisis of underage usage of nicotine products. If you or someone you know has sustained injuries from using a JUUL product, falling victim to the targeted underage marketing, it could be beneficial to seek legal counsel. Contact one of our attorneys today to discuss your options and potential paths forward.