NEW YORK (WROC) — New York state is suing Juul Labs, Inc. New York Attorney General Letitia James made the vaping announcement Tuesday.

The lawsuit alleges that the electronic e-cigarette company engaged in deceptive marketing practices targeting minors, that the company misled consumers about nicotine content, and that the company misrepresented the safety of Juul products.

“There can be no doubt that JUUL’s aggressive advertising has significantly contributed to the public health crisis that has left youth in New York and across the country addicted to its products,” said Attorney General James in a press release. “By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, JUUL is putting countless New Yorkers at risk. I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth.”  

The lawsuit, filed in New York County Supreme Court, alleges that JUUL took a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook by engaging in deceptive business practices when marketing and advertising its products, and illegally sold its products to minors through its website and in third-party retail stores throughout the state, causing large numbers of New York youth to become addicted to nicotine, according to the Attorney General’s office.

“We are seeking a permanent injunction against Juul,” James said Tuesday at the press conference.

The suit also alleges that JUUL’s advertising campaign misled consumers by failing to warn that they contained nicotine, and by misrepresenting its products as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, according to James.

The state issued a ban back in September, but it was placed on hold in October.

The New York State Department of Health estimates that 1 million residents use e-cigarette products on a regular basis – 220,000 of those users are under 18-years-old, according to the attorney general’s office.

Lung injury cases continue to rise across the state of New York and here in Rochester. Doctor Nicholas Nacca, a medical toxicologist at Strong Memorial, says many of them are linked to vaping.

“At the University of Rochester we’ve had 19 cases since July that have been admitted to the hospital,” said Nacca. “My feeling is this is the tip of the iceberg.”

It has been a tough month for the company. They are being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. Also Juul is set to cut more around 650 jobs.

Press Conference

Juul’s statement

“While we have not yet reviewed the complaint, we remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes. As part of that process, we recently stopped accepting orders for our Mint JUULpods in the U.S., suspended all broadcast, print, and digital product advertising in the U.S. and are investing in scientific research to ensure the quality of our FDA Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) application and expanding our commitment to develop new technology to reduce youth use. Our customer base is the world’s 1 billion adult smokers and we do not intend to attract underage users.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statement:

“It is undeniable that the vaping industry is using flavored e-cigarettes to get young people hooked on potentially dangerous and deadly products, and the predatory marketing practices used by these companies have no place in New York. We commend Attorney General James for joining us as we fight for the future of this state and for the health of all New Yorkers. We will continue using every tool at our disposal to protect young people from forming dangerous lifelong habits.”

New York vs. Juul lawsuit

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.