Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, along with Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, announced Wednesday that the State of Minnesota is suing e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Labs, Inc. The lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County District Court, alleges among other counts that JUUL has violated multiple state consumer-protection laws, breached its duty of reasonable care, and created a public nuisance.
“My job is to protect Minnesotans from deceptive, fraudulent, and unlawful practices, and to protect their health and safety. It’s especially important for me to protect our young folks from deception and harm. I’m bringing a lawsuit against JUUL today because it has created a public nuisance that is centered around deceiving, addicting, and harming our young people,” said Attorney General Ellison.
“Students across the state tell me they feel preyed upon by JUUL,” said Governor Tim Walz. “As a father of two teenagers and Governor of Minnesota, I’m saying enough is enough. We’re going to hold JUUL accountable for the vaping epidemic they started in Minnesota.”
The complaint that Attorney General Ellison filed today describes how JUUL developed products with higher, more potent, and more addictive doses of nicotine than conventional cigarettes and other e-cigarettes — then not only failed to disclose that to its customers, but represented that its products are a safe alternative to cigarettes.
The complaint also describes in detail how JUUL developed sleek-looking products and sweet, popular flavors that were designed to appeal to youth, and how its vast, targeted, and highly effective youth-oriented marketing campaign closely follows the Big Tobacco marketing playbook of decades past in deceptively luring young people into using and becoming addicted to its products. Indeed, JUUL’s co-founder has stated that even before JUUL launched its products, they studied Big Tobacco’s marketing strategies in detail.
In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health reported than nearly 90 percent of Minnesota teens had seen at least one advertisement for vaping in the last 30 days.
The complaint also asserts that JUUL was negligent in its duty to correctly verify its customers’ ages, as required by Minnesota law, and deliberately turned a blind eye to the fact that its controls were not working and underage Minnesotans were purchasing their products.