E-cigarette maker Juul faces youth vaping trial in Minnesota

Minneapolis –

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Tuesday personally launched a state lawsuit against Juul Labs, accusing e-cigarette makers of using “sophisticated products, clever advertising and enticing flavors” to target children. accused of being addicted to nicotine, the first of thousands of lawsuits against the company. trial.

Minnesota is seeking more than $100 million in damages, accusing Washington, D.C.-based Jules of illegally targeting young people to make a new generation addicted to nicotine.

“After Minnesota lowered youth smoking rates to the lowest levels in a generation, they lured, tricked, and addicted a whole new generation of kids,” Ellison said. Tobacco is back with a new name, but it’s the same game: Jules has swept our state jobs with its sophisticated products, clever advertising and irresistible flavors.”

Juul has faced thousands of lawsuits nationwide, most of which have been settled, including 39 with other states and US territories. Minnesota won her landmark $7.1 billion settlement with the tobacco industry in 1998. In 2020, Minnesota added tobacco giant Altria, which owned a minority stake in Juul, as a co-defendant.

Altria said it completed the sale this month and effectively lost its $12.8 billion investment.

Juul’s attorney, David Bernick, promised jurors a “fierce and interesting” trial. He said Juul’s aim has always been to convert adult smokers of combustible cigarettes to less dangerous products that provide a satisfying nicotine experience, not to seduce children. Cigarettes are not safe, but neither are they deadly, he said. they are somewhere in between. He also argued that Juul intentionally did nothing to promote youth demand, and that the rise in youth e-cigarettes was likely due to increased demand among adults, resulting in This suggests that there was a high probability that a “leak” to

Artoria’s attorney, William Geraghty, denied Ellison’s allegations that Altria had invested heavily in Jules. Altria bought a passive stake because while Altria’s competing e-cigarettes failed in the market, Juul found the key to successfully switching adult smokers of traditional cigarettes to less harmful products. he said.

The lawsuit against Juul, filed in 2019, alleges consumer fraud, public nuisance, unfair enrichment, and collusion with Altria.The jury trial before Hennepin County District Judge Laurie Miller is expected to last about three weeks.

Juul Labs was launched in 2015 based on the popularity of flavors such as mango, mint, fruit medley and creme brulee. Teenagers spurred that rise, some addicted to his Juul’s high-nicotine pods. Amid the backlash, Juul canceled all US ads for his 2019, discontinued most of its flavors, and lost popularity among teens. Juul’s share of the multi-billion dollar market is now down to around 33% from a high of 75% in 2018.

In his opening statement, Ellison alleges that Juul and Altria broke the law by using deceptive practices to sell tobacco products to minors. Juul intentionally made their products small and slick to make them harder for adults to detect, formulated them to deliver high doses of nicotine to children with nicotine addiction, added flavors that appealed to young people, and added flavors that appealed to teens. He used a marketing campaign known to appeal to young people in the United States, Ellison said.

“Young people are innocent and want to explore,” Ellison said. “Kids are drawn to things that are shiny, sleek, and cool.

Bernick gave the jury another explanation. Adult smokers don’t like being seen smoking because of the social stigma, he said. designed the product to be different.

Bernick said Minnesota was experiencing an “exponential growth” of youth e-cigarettes even before Juul entered the local market in late 2017. because of the rise.

Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group (previously known as Phillip Morris Cos.) has said it has nothing to do with Juul’s design, fruit and other flavor creation, or company operations. increase.

In fact, according to Geraghty, Juul stopped selling some of these flavors at the retail level before Altria invested. He said that the marketing services Altria provided to Juul for about a year (including the use of shelf space in convenience stores and his Juul coupons in his pack at Marlboro) were used by young people in Minnesota to use e-cigarettes. denied that it had any effect in increasing According to state health department statistics, youth use of e-cigarettes in the state has actually leveled off from 2017 to 2020, he said.

And Geraghty said Altria never profited from Juul sales. It would have made a profit only if the company’s value had risen, but that was not the case.

Juul is now suing the Food and Drug Administration for denying a petition to continue marketing e-cigarette products as smoking alternatives for adults. Juul has lawsuits from New York, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Alaska, Illinois, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

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