ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs for deceptive marketing to youth for e-cigarette sales on Wednesday.
Juul has become the leading e-cigarette manufacturer in America.
The multibillion-dollar company controls one-third of the e-cigarette market in America.
For Minnesota, this is a familiar scene.
Former Attorney General Skip Humphrey led the state and nation by taking on ‘Big Tobacco,’ who at that time was also the leading manufacturer.
“Twenty years ago, an attorney general stood and told the world big tobacco surrendered. Well, they didn’t just surrender, they regrouped, and they went back. That was a historic landmark. We had them. We had this generation down to the numbers that were below five–percent of tobacco use,” Walz said.
Minnesota officials say a decade of progress in the state has been nearly erased following the recent spike of youth vaping.
“Between 2016 and 2019, we saw rates of increase of 50, 75, 90–percent between the last student survey and the next student survey in terms of the number or percentage of kids in different grade points that are what we consider to be regular users of vaping.” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.
Now, the State of Minnesota is once again taking action.
“We are using the power of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office to bring a lawsuit against Juul Labs on behalf of the state and the people of Minnesota," Ellison said.
The lawsuit describes how Juul has created a public nuisance and violated the consumer protection laws in Minnesota.
The complaint investigates how Juul failed to disclose to its customers that the products – being marketed as safer alternatives – have higher, more potent and more addictive doses of nicotine than conventional cigarettes and other e-cigarettes.
In return, the state is asking the court to order Juul to stop using deceptive marketing tactics, fund a corrective public education campaign, fund clinical vaping cessation programs and to disclose all research.
State representatives also stressed that this epidemic is rooted in the environment and context, rather than individual choice.
Juul will respond to the lawsuit in writing in the coming weeks.