Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Wednesday that his office is seeking injunctions against several electronic cigarette companies, alleging they are engaged in the illegal sale of vaping products and marketing that promotes youth consumption of tobacco.
“Underage vaping is an emerging public health epidemic, and luring kids to use dangerous and addictive vaping products, as we allege here, has got to stop,” Feuer said. “In fact, kids shouldn’t have access to these products at all. The lawsuits we filed today send a strong message that if you put children at risk for the sake of profit, you’ll face serious consequences.”
The companies targeted by Feuer in two lawsuits are Los Angeles-based VapeCo Distribution LLC and its parent company, NEwhere Inc., and Kandypens Inc.
The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
VapeCo and its parent company own and control at least three vaping retail websites — www.newhere.com, www.madhatterjuice.com, and www.vapeco.com, and do not have U.S. Federal Drug Administration approval for most, if not all, of the products they offer for sale, Feuer alleged.
The lawsuit filed against the companies also alleges the companies use social media platforms to glamorize youth vaping through the use of young models, sexualized content, cartoon characters, smoking tricks and flavored products with packaging designed to appeal to children, including fruit flavored cereal, donuts, cookies, popcorn and candy.
The lawsuit also alleges the defendants failed to take necessary legal steps to ensure minors do not purchase vaping products on the companies’ websites, and says that on multiple occasions, the City Attorney’s Office was able to purchase various e-cigarette products from the defendants’ websites while posing as teen customers using fake email accounts and a prepaid gift card. The companies at no point requested a valid form of government identification, or otherwise verify the age of the customer, as required by California law, the lawsuit says.
Kandypens Inc., a California-based company that manufactures and sells vaping products via its website, Kandypens.com, is facing a similar set of allegations, including that it failed to get FDA approval for its sales, targets young consumers with social media marketing, and failed to provide all required health warnings and to properly label products for nicotine levels.
The lawsuits seek injunctions prohibiting each company from selling vaping products over the internet without the use of appropriate age verification procedures, selling new tobacco products without FDA approval, failing to use child resistant packaging, and targeting youth in their marketing activities.