California sued cigarette maker Juul for selling and marketing its products to minors through its online store. Photo by Mylesclark96/Wikimedia Commons
Nov. 18 (UPI) -- California filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that e-cigarette maker Juul failed to properly vet online customers, allowing the products to be shipped to minors.
The lawsuit alleges that Juul illegally marketed and sold its e-cigarettes to minors through a flaw in the age verification system for its online store that resulted in "hundreds of thousands of tobacco products to be sold and/or delivered" to customers in California with made-up names and non-existent addresses.
"Juul adopted the tobacco industry's infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said during a press conference on Monday. "Today we take legal action against the deceptive practices that Juul and the e-cigarette industry employ to lure our kids into their vaping web."
The lawsuit cites email correspondence between Juul and the company's age verification vendor, Veratad, in which Juul compliance manager Annie Kennedy asked Veratad employee Tom Canfarotta why a customer was age verified despite listing an incorrect address.
"Your current ruleset does not require a full address match," Canfarotta responded.
The suit alleges that Juul was aware the Veratad verification process did not always analyze a potential customer's name, full address and date of birth when confirming their identity and age, resulting in approval of accounts with "bad info" being approved.
However, it cites an email by senior business systems manager Adam Bower, in which he wrote "if veratad passed it [then] it's not on us."
Additionally, California alleges that Juul stored the personal e-mails of minors who attempted and failed to purchase vaping products and proceeded to market to them.
The lawsuit seeks to court to order Juul to pay for the cost of addiction treatment and prevention as well as $2,500 per violation of the state's false advertising and unfair competition laws.