The state of Illinois has become the latest in the nation to sue Juul Labs. Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ensuring that there isn’t just one brand to be blamed for the vape epidemic, Juul is still being scapegoated for the issue.
As CNN reported, Illinois’ lawsuit was filed on Thursday by its Attorney General, Kwame Raoul. The state joins several states, including New York and California, that have also filed suits against the San Francisco-based startup for its role in the vape lung crisis.
Raoul wants to penalize the e-cigarette maker $50,000 “for every deceptive or unfair act or practice,” with “an additional $50,000 for each act or practice committed with the intent to defraud.”
Illinois claims that the company marketed its “sleek, easy-to-conceal e-cigarette” and popular liquid pod flavors to young consumers, in turn hooking them onto nicotine. “Juul’s product is not approved by the FDA as a smoking cessation device and has not put forth credible evidence to support such approval,” the lawsuit said. “However, Juul continues to market its product as if it did so.”
In recent months, Juul has been busy overhauling its public image by shifting its sales strategy. In a statement regarding the Illinois lawsuit, the company said it’s currently “focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S,” a notion it’s reiterated since the government and public backlash began earlier this year. Juul Labs is currently attempting to cooperate with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to achieve compliance and keep its majority market share.
Vape lung injuries being blamed on Juul’s branding, which prompted the company to stop selling flavored nicotine, have contributed to halving unicorn’s valuation this week from a year ago. Despite having one of the most recognizable brands of 2019, the company’s business model is being negatively impacted by regulatory obstacles amid mounting lawsuits.