PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The City of Philadelphia has now filed suit against e-cigarette maker JUUL Labs.
"The City of Philadelphia announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc. for the company's role in cultivating and fostering an e-cigarette epidemic among youth in Philadelphia," Mayor Jim Kenney's office said in a release Wednesday.
The suit claims the company marketed directly to the youth of the city.
The city says JUUL targeted "school-age children to ensure the continual growth of their consumer base."
The city is seeking financial damages and remedies to combat the problem of nicotine addiction.
"JUUL developed and marketed a product to deliberately get young people addicted to nicotine," Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said. "The next generation is too important to Philadelphia for us to allow them to do that."
JUUL, which entered the market in 2015, is America's dominant maker of e-cigarettes controlling more than 70 percent of the market.
In December 2019, legislation known as Tobacco 21 or T21 was signed which raised the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years.
At the time of publishing this report, JUUL has not responded to our request for comment concerning the lawsuit.
Earlier this month, JUUL announced a collaboration with We Card, the non-profit organization serving the nation's retailers of alcohol and tobacco products to help prevent age-restricted product sales to minors.
The company said "Juul Labs' commitment to combat underage use is a key priority as the company works to help reset the vapor category."
The 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey stated about 1.8 million fewer U.S. youth are currently using e-cigarettes compared to last year. The survey stated, however, 3.6 million youth are still currently using e-cigarettes.
In September, JUUL released a statement on the survey:
"We are encouraged that underage use has declined significantly, which shows the importance of evidence-based interventions. As we continue to reset the vapor category and seek to earn trust, we remain committed to working with regulators and stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes. We remain fully committed to the PMTA (Premarket Tobacco Product Application) process and continue to support FDA's active enforcement against illegally marketed products that jeopardize the category and its harm reduction potential for adult smokers. We will also continue to work with states toward full implementation and enforcement of Tobacco 21."
Last year, the company said their target market is the "one billion existing adult smokers globally, more than 70 percent of whom want to quit using combustible cigarettes (according to the CDC)."
"Youth use of vapor products is detrimental to JUUL Labs' mission, and to our business," the company said.
In November 2018, the company suspended the distribution of non-tobacco and non-menthol-based flavored JUULpods to all of their traditional retail store partners "in response to the troubling rise of youth vaping."
They also discontinued their U.S.-based Facebook and Instagram accounts.
In 2019, the company said they would work with retailers to implement the "strictest age-verification standards ever imposed for an age-restricted product at retail."
City of Philadelphia sues JUUL over 'e-cigarettes epidemic among youth'
JUUL has not responded to a request for comment at this time.
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