The Bucks County District Attorney is fighting back against e-cigarette makers JUUL and Eonsmoke, with the filing of a lawsuit alleging a plot to lure minors into getting hooked on vaping.
The suit, filed in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, demands JUUL forfeit its “ill-gotten profits, put an to end its pervasive, predatory business practices in Bucks County and fund addiction treatment and education,” the DA’s office said
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub was joined at a news conference announcing the lawsuit Jan. 29, by Montgomery County D.A. Kevin R. Steele, who filed a similar lawsuit last year, as well as health and school district officials.
With Weintraub the plaintiff in the civil lawsuit, the 63-page complaint names as defendants the San Francisco-based e-cigarette giant Juul Labs, Inc., Clifton, N.J.-based Juul pod manufacturer Eonsmoke, and two Bucks County Juul retailers; Gulf Mart, of Quakertown, and Delta Gas (owned by Lehal Associates, Inc.), of Warminster.
Both stores have previously been cited for illegal sales of e-cigarettes to minors.
The complaint, which details how JUUL used marketing practices long-banned in the tobacco industry to market its product to children, is brought under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL).
The lawsuit asserts that the defendants’ actions are potentially harmful to every citizen, particularly the county’s more than 100,000 school-age children.
The pernicious effects of vaping are only beginning to be seen, the DA’s office said. By October of last year, the complaint states, more than 1,000 lung injuries related to vaping had been reported in 49 states and 26 deaths had been recorded, including one in Pennsylvania.
“Through deceptive marketing that targets our children and with its network of retailers, JUUL has created a public health crisis,” said Weintraub. “Together we are sending an unfiltered message to JUUL and to all retailers who knowing traffic e-cigarettes to minors: your false, deceptive and harmful business practices will not be tolerated in Bucks County.”
The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office is represented in the litigation by Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, through its consumer protection practice department.
“It is important to note that our attorneys in this case will only receive compensation if the litigation is successful,” said Weintraub, “and those proceeds would come from the defendants, not taxpayers.”
Patrick Howard, am SMBB partner, said “Bucks County is, tragically, among the leaders when it comes to student vaping. For example, while statewide 25% of high school students surveyed say they have vaped, in Bucks County that number is greater than 37%.”
If successful, proceeds from the lawsuit would help pay for related health-care services and programs; tobacco education and cessation programs; related studies and research; and law enforcement and other related services.