Colorado Sues JUUL, Says The E-Cigarette Company Targeted Children

Daniel Brenner for CPR News
A student vapes in between classes Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019 on the MSU campus.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Tuesday that the state is suing e-cigarette company JUUL Labs, Inc., over what he says were efforts by the company to market to youth.

The AG's office said Tuesday the lawsuit was filed in Denver District Court, "to protect Colorado consumers, especially youth, who continue to be endangered by the e-cigarette epidemic."

The lawsuit alleges the company violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act by intentionally selling its products to youth, incorrectly marketing them as healthy alternatives to cigarettes, and downplaying the nicotine concentration in the products.

The suit is the result of a yearlong investigation by Weiser.

“Addiction to e-cigarettes poses major health risks to Colorado youth,” Weiser said in a news release. “JUUL must be held accountable for its reckless, deceptive, and unconscionable marketing that specifically targeted youth, downplayed its nicotine content and the presence of dangerous chemicals, and deceptively claimed its products as a healthy alternative to cigarettes and as a smoking cessation device.”

A 2018 survey found 27 percent of Colorado high schoolers said they had vaped in the previous month. That is almost double the national rate.

The city of Denver is also suing JUUL, alleging similar practices. When other Colorado governments first joined that the litigation, a spokesman said the company doesn't intend to attract underage users and is taking steps to combat underage use.

CPR's John Daley contributed to this report.