Ls Angeles, Nov 19 : The US state of California has filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc., the largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes, alleging that the firm targeted young people and teenagers with its advertising despite the fact that sales of its products were prohibited to people under 21 years of age.
"We've worked too hard, committed our hard-earned money for too long combating harmful tobacco use to stand idly by as we now lose Californians to vaping and nicotine addiction," Efe news reported citing Attorney General Xavier Becerra as saying at a news conference here on Monday.
"Juul adopted the tobacco industry's infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets," he added.
The complaint was presented jointly by the California state government, the city and county of Los Angeles, and in it the plaintiffs have claimed that, besides targeting young people with its advertising, the firm did not warn the public about the fact that its products expose users to potentially dangerous chemicals and to the risk of cancer, birth defects and reproductive damage.
In addition, according to the plaintiffs, Juul did not verify the age of consumers of its products and violated privacy laws of minors by saving their e-mail addresses and using them to send those people more ads.
Specifically, the lawsuit says that the e-cigarette manufacturer publicized its mango, mint, cream and pepper flavours, which are especially popular among teens.
E-cigarettes are facing increasing restrictions in the US, with prohibitions on the local and state level and the threat by President Donald Trump to prohibit marketing the products on the national level.
Last week, the US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report in which it raised to 42 the death toll for people who have died from lung damage caused by consumption of electronic cigarettes, along with more than 2,000 cases of non-lethal lung damage.
Vaping among teens has been steadily increasing despite efforts by health officials to limit it, with more than 25 per cent of US high school students using e-cigarettes, according to the CDC.