Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Monday that the city obtained a court order that prohibits a California-based vaping company from targeting youth in its marketing campaigns and requires the company to pay a $1.2 million penalty.
According to Feuer, Kandypens, which sells vape products online, engaged in youth-targeting marketing through YouTube and Instagram, as well as product placement in music videos for artists with young fan bases, including Justin Bieber and DJ Khaled.
Kandypens did not immediately respond to a request for statement.
“The vaping industry has taken a page from big tobacco’s previous efforts. It uses shiny new e-cigarettes and flavored vapes to attract kids; some vaping companies have employed product placement and engage celebrities to target kids,” Feuer said.
He called vaping an “epidemic,” saying that 27% of high school students vape and a million kids vape every day. Teenagers between 15 and 17 years old are 16 times more likely to vape than people between 25 and 34 years old, he said.
“Tobacco products, including flavored e-liquids, hook kids and they pose a public health risk,” Feuer said. “Our fight is to protect those kids from getting hooked in a new way, just as their predecessors got hooked a generation ago.”
Feuer’s office alleged in its lawsuit — which was filed on Oct. 3, 2018 — that Kandypens violated the Unfair Competition Law, California’s Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act and Proposition 65.
The court’s ruling, which was issued on Friday, prohibits Kandypens:
— from having contracts with anyone who has been featured on Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards;
— from advertising in entertainment venues that allow minors;
— from paying anyone under 21 years old to market its products; and
— from having any merchandise or apparel that features Kandypens on it.
Kandypens is also required under the court order to comply with California’s tobacco laws and add an age verification system to all of its social media pages to restrict people who are under 21 years old, according to Feuer.
Feuer said an investigator in his office successfully bought products tobacco products from the Kandypens website while posing as a teen customer with a fake email account and prepaid gift card. The website did not ask for the investigator’s age before authorizing the purchase.
“Our message to the vaping industry is clear: if you target kids in your marketing and your advertising, and you take other steps that enable kids to get access to your products, we’re going to hold you to account,” Feuer said.
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