CHICAGO (CBS) — In what is being called a first-of-its-kind legal action, the Lake County state’s attorney has joined with private firms to file a lawsuit agains e-cigarette maker Juul.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim and his legal partners accuse Juul of intentionally pushing teens to become addicted to nicotine-aided e-cigarettes through deceptive marketing campaigns.
Nerheim has joined the Chicago law firms of Romanucci and Blandin, LLC; Hart McLaughlin and Eldridge, LLC; and Edelson, PC., to formally file the lawsuit Tuesday.
“Just like cigarette companies did in the past, Juul preyed on teens by using advertisements that glamorized their product in order to get kids hooked on nicotine,” Nerheim said. “It will take years of education and money to right the wrongs and cover the damages caused by Juul’s marketing campaigns. To that end, the company should be held accountable for the massive expected cost to undo the damage they created.”
The lawsuit claims Juul launched an advertising campaign that specifically targeted teenagers on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On social media, Juul pushed teens to take pictures of themselves using the product, then asked teens to post those pictures on social media using the Juul hashtag, the lawsuit said.
The complaint filed in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of Lake County seeks civil penalties to remedy and prevent further harm to Illinois residents.
The suit employs a strategy used against big tobacco over their marketing decades ago. Previous lawsuits against the e-cigaretee makers also focused on the health dangers of nicotine addiction, according to Consumer Safety. Those suits were filed only by private lawfirms on behalf of clients.
On its website, Juul says it supports laws that require purchasers of its products to be 21 years or older. The company says it has stopped using Facebook and Instagram in the United States.