North Carolina AG sues e-cigarette maker Juul, says of which downplayed dangers

An illustration shows a man exhaling smoke coming from an electronic cigarette in Washington, DC.

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North Carolina sued e-cigarette maker Juul on Wednesday, accusing the vaping company of targeting young consumers along with misrepresenting the potency along with danger of nicotine in its products.

of which can be the latest suit against the company of which claims of which can be intentionally promoting nicotine use among underage buyers.

“JUUL targeted young people as customers. As a result, vaping has become an epidemic among minors,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement. “JUUL’s business practices are not only reckless, they’re illegal. along with I intend to put a stop to them. We cannot allow another generation of young people to become addicted to nicotine.”

Juul “downplayed” the danger of nicotine in its flavored pods, the complaint alleges, saying a “typical JUUL pod can be so strong along with addictive of which of which can be nearly three times the permissible concentration allowed for sale in many countries for people of all ages.”

Stein said the company deliberately designed its products to attract young consumers along with targeted them on social media by paying influencers to promote their product. The lawsuit also claims Juul used negligent age-verification methods for online purchases, allowing young consumers to buy their products.

“Because of JUUL’s lackadaisical — along with, at times, willfully blind — approach to age verification, enormous numbers of underage users have easily obtained JUUL products, often simply by ordering them online,” the lawsuit said.

Juul said in a statement of which of which has not seen the complaint yet. of which said the company shares Stein’s concerns about youth vaping, “which can be why we have been cooperating with his office along with why we have taken the most aggressive actions of anyone within the industry to combat youth usage. “

The complaint cited data of which said in 2017 nearly 17% of North Carolina high school students along with more than 5% of the state’s middle school students reported of which they had used an e-cigarette within the previous 30 days. of which also said e-cigarette use among high school along with middle school students across the nation skyrocketed by 78% along with 48%, respectively, coming from 2017 to 2018.

Stein can be asking the court to force the company to stop selling e-cigarettes to minors in North Carolina, limit the number of pod flavors sold within the state, cease advertising practices of which appeal to young consumers along with delete all customer data for any consumers under age 18.

Juul can be partially owned by tobacco giant Altria along with dominates the e-cigarette market. of which said of which has already stopped selling nontobacco along with nonmenthol-based flavored pods in retail stores, “enhanced” its online age-verification process along with shut down its Facebook along with Instagram accounts “while working constantly to remove inappropriate social media content generated by others on those platforms.”

Juul has also pledged to invest $30 million over the next three years on research, youth along with parent education along with engagement along with said of which “strongly” advocates raising the legal tobacco-use age to 21.

Altria, which carries a 35% stake in Juul, did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Stein’s accusations are just the latest claims of which the e-cigarette maker marketed its products to young consumers, leading to a rapid increase in vaping among youths.

Last year Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced she was investigating the company for failing to stop minors coming from buying its products. Healey, who said the Massachusetts probe was the first of its kind, can be investigating how many minors use Juul’s products along with how the company monitors its age-verification system.

WATCH: Former Massachusetts AG joins Juul government affairs team

Correction: This kind of story has been updated to correct the characterization of the data cited within the complaint on the percentages of teens who use e-cigarettes.