Attorney General Brnovich Sues Juul Labs, Inc.

PHOENIX - Attorney General Mark Brnovich today announced that his office filed a Consumer Fraud lawsuit against Juul Labs, Inc. (JUUL), regarding the advertisement and sale of JUUL’s vaping devices and vaping pods to Arizonans, including JUUL's exploitative marketing towards Arizona’s youth. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The United States Surgeon General has described youth e-cigarette use as an “epidemic,” and the former United States Food and Drug Administration Commissioner has pointed to JUUL as a significant cause of the problem. Youth vaping now dramatically outpaces youth cigarette use nationally and in Arizona.

"JUUL updated Big Tobacco's playbook and helped create the perfect storm for a new youth epidemic. JUUL enticed interested minors through advertising, lured kids in with flavored vaping products, and then hooked a new generation of youth to addictive nicotine. Vaping companies that engage in irresponsible and misleading marketing efforts must be held accountable for exposing Arizona youth to nicotine and the addiction that follows,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Great strides have been made to dramatically reduce youth smoking and access to nicotine products in the past twenty years. Up until recently, our office has seen the fail rate of illegal tobacco and nicotine-based product sales to youth statewide drop below ten percent for the first time in part thanks to our retail enforcement efforts. However, the recent vaping explosion among youth is a clear sign that this positive trend is now swinging dramatically in the wrong direction."

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office’s lawsuit alleges that JUUL engaged in deceptive and unfair acts and practices, including:

  1. Appealing to, targeting, misleading, and exploiting young people with tactics such as fruit flavors, social media campaigns, and free giveaways;
  2. Failing to take steps to prevent underage purchase and distribution; and
  3. Misleading consumers about the nicotine content in JUUL’s products. 

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief against JUUL, disgorgement of profits, and penalties of up to $10,000 for each willful violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

This case is being overseen by Civil Litigation Division Chief Counsel Joe Sciarrotta and handled by Senior Litigation Counsel Shane Foster, Neil Singh, and Stephanie Elliott, as well as Assistant Attorneys General Erika Mansur and Jane Fallon.

The recently released 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows a dangerous and alarming vaping trend among American youth. 

  • The number of U.S. children and teenagers using tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in the last 30 days has risen to 6.2 million. 
  • About 1 in 3 high school students (4.7 million) and about 1 in 8 middle school students (1.5 million) identify as current tobacco users - which includes e-cigarette products. Those numbers are up from 2018, including almost doubling among middle school students. 
  • It is the second year in a row an increase in young people using tobacco has been recorded. This, after years of steady progress driving down the numbers of young people using.
  • For the sixth year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school and middle school students (27.5%).
  • 27.5 percent of high schoolers vape, up from 20.8 percent in 2018.
  • 10.5 percent of middle schoolers vape, up from 4.9 percent in 2018.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 middle and high school students (4.3 million) who currently use tobacco said they used flavored tobacco products in 2019.

The Attorney General's Office Tobacco Enforcement Unit (TEU) has also witnessed this disturbing trend. TEU conducts undercover inspections utilizing youth volunteers to check if retailers, including smoke shops, are selling tobacco products to minors as part of its Operation Counter Strike program. In 2019, TEU conducted 3,002 inspections statewide and issued 775 citations to businesses and individuals. After declining fail rates for two consecutive years and reaching historically low levels in FY2018 (9.8%), the fail rate for inspections in calendar year 2019 jumped to 14% statewide. TEU attributes the increase to youth access and demand for e-cigarettes.

A copy of the lawsuit.

Also today, Attorney General Brnovich announced an additional lawsuit against Eonsmoke.