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Attorney General Josh Stein Announces Lawsuit and Statewide Investigation on E-Cigarettes

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Contact:
Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that he is taking major actions against the e-cigarette industry due to ongoing concerns about kid-friendly flavors, youth marketing, and poor age verification. Today, Stein is suing Juul founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen, announcing his statewide investigation into Puff Bar and other e-cigarette manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, and urging FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf to protect kids from flavored e-cigarettes.

Attorney General Josh Stein’s statement on today’s news:

“We made major progress in protecting young people from e-cigarette addiction when we secured a court order dramatically changing the way Juul does business and recovering $40 million to help kids conquer their nicotine addiction. But many of the billions Juul made from addicting kids to nicotine are now in the personal accounts of its founders and early investors. The people behind this company must be held accountable and pay to clean up the mess they made.

“At the same time, the market Juul created still exists, and other companies are filling the vacuum. 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.

“Finally, I am urging FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf to create national, industry-wide regulations on flavors. Until the FDA acts to protect kids, we will all be playing whack-a-mole with these companies.

“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.”

Today, Attorney General Stein is:

  • Filing a lawsuit against Juul’s 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.
  • Announcing a statewide investigation into companies all along the e-cigarette industry’s distribution chain, due to ongoing concerns about flavors, age verification, and marketing. That includes investigations into:
    • Puff Bar, a company with kid-friendly flavors that is filling the youth market Juul created.
    • Retailers across North Carolina that sell flavored e-cigarettes, including several located near middle and high schools.
    • Distributors that help e-cigarette manufacturers deliver their products to retailers.
  • Urging FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf to take strong action on flavors when he is confirmed.

Attorney General Stein is issuing civil investigative demands to 20 companies today, including:

  • Puff Bar
  • 15 vape retail stores
  • Three distributors
  • One online seller

An example of the civil investigative demands to retailers is available here.

A copy of the civil investigative demands to Puff Bar is available here.

A copy of the complaint against Juul’s founders is available here.

A copy of the letter to FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf is available here.

More information about Attorney General Stein’s work on e-cigarettes below:

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