By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City has sued more nearly two dozen online e-cigarette retailers, accusing them of selling their products to underage New Yorkers, the city announced Wednesday.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday evening in Brooklyn federal court, targets 22 companies including Artison Vapor Franchise LLC, Eliquidstop.com and Vapor 4 Life Holdings Inc. All of them are located outside New York.
The lawsuit accuses the companies of violating New York City law prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to people under 21 by marketing to underage consumers and failing to take adequate steps to verify their ages.
It seeks an order requiring them to comply with the law, and money damages “to compensate the city for the costs of abating the epidemic of underage e-cigarette use in the city.”
“The kids of New York are the pride of our city, but to these companies, they’re just a source of profit,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “Preying on minors and hooking them on a potentially lethal, lifelong nicotine addiction is unconscionable.”
Artisan Vapor Franchise, Eliquidstop.com and Vapor 4 Life could not immediately be reached for comment.
There has been a regulatory crackdown on e-cigarettes and a growing number of lawsuits by young adults and parents of teenagers against leading e-cigarette company Juul Labs Inc and its parent company, Marlboro maker Altria Group.
Most of the lawsuits say only that users became addicted to nicotine as a result of using Juul, but some allege serious health consequences.
Some states, including New York, Michigan and Rhode Island, have moved to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Massachusetts has gone further, instituting a four-month ban on all vaping products.
Last week, a New York judge blocked a state ban on most flavored e-cigarettes from taking effect after an industry group sued to challenge it, while a Massachusetts judge upheld that state’s ban.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)