Harris County attorney sues JUUL over ‘deceptive’ marketing practices targeting teens

(Seth Wenig, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – The Harris County Attorney has filed a lawsuit against the e-cigarette company JUUL and several of the company’s executives “for the deliberate and deceptive marketing of its highly addictive and destructive products to young people.”

Christian D. Menefee filed the lawsuit, making Harris County the first governmental entity in Texas to join the movement against JUUL.

Menefee said the company purposely designed its product to appear slick and high-tech and included “kid-friendly” flavors like mango and cool mint to appeal to younger people.

“Cigarette companies were long-ago barred from engaging in this type of marketing,” Menefee said. “Our youth do not deserve to be exploited by a company looking for a lifetime of profits. My office will hold JUUL accountable for its exploitative and negligent practices designed to create the next generation of nicotine users.”

The lawsuit claims that the company targeted a younger demographic by using social media and adopting a “Make the Switch” campaign, which misled people into thinking JUUL was a benign alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.

However, according to Menefee, “JUUL’s e-cigarettes were designed to maximize addiction through its patented nicotine delivery mechanism. … JUUL also took advantage of the loose regulations for e-cigarettes and made sure its products and advertising do not contain any health risk warnings.”

Cigarette giant Altria is also included in the lawsuit. The company own 35% of JUUL and other companies and was “instrumental in helping JUUL develop its marketing tactics, using its well-developed playbook.”

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.