More than 20 online eCigarette retailers are being sued by New York City for allegedly selling to children.
Bloomberg is reporting that the suit follows a crackdown on vaping following an outbreak of lung illnesses tied to the practice.
New York City requested that a Brooklyn federal judge on Wednesday (Oct. 9) stop 22 online sellers from being allowed to either market or offer eCigarettes to anyone younger than 21.
Part of the request also involves a mandate that these companies put in age-verification systems, alleging that even when ages lower than the legal limit were entered, people could still purchase the vaping products.
“The kids of New York are the pride of our city, but to these companies, they’re just a source of profit,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Preying on minors and hooking them on a potentially lethal, lifelong nicotine addiction is unconscionable.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been at least 18 deaths so far relating to vaping, and at least 1,000 lung injuries. There has not been any specific company or product identified in the illnesses or deaths.
New York state asked for an emergency ban on flavored eCigarettes but it was blocked by an appeal by the Washington-based trade group the Vapor Technology Association. They argue that most of the illnesses are from black market THC vaping products, and not nicotine related products.
One of the most targeted eCigarette companies has been Juul Labs, which is also one of the most successful companies selling eCigarettes. The company is a defendant in a litany of lawsuits consolidated in San Francisco and awaiting pre-trial actions.
Some of the lawsuits are also targeted at Altria Group, one of the largest tobacco companies in the country.
Juul is also the subject of upwards if 40 lawsuits in other state courts, with some cases being brought by parents of children they say became addicted to nicotine after using the product.