Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison sued Juul Labs on Wednesday, accusing the e-cigarette maker of unlawfully targeting young people with its products to get a new generation addicted to nicotine. The lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis seeks to force Juul to stop marketing to young people; fund a corrective public education campaign in Minnesota on the dangers of youth vaping; fund vaping cessation programs; disclose all its research on vaping and health; and surrender all profits from its allegedly unlawful conduct, the AP reports. "They have deceived and misled Minnesota consumers of all ages, creating a public nuisance, and especially harmed our young people," Ellison said at a news conference with Gov. Tim Walz.
Ellison declined to put a dollar figure on how much money the state will seek in damages and civil penalties. But he said it could be in line with the state's landmark $7 billion settlement with the tobacco industry in 1998. He said the San Francisco-based company followed "Big Tobacco's playbook" of marketing to young people. Juul issued a statement saying it is "working cooperatively" with attorneys general, regulators, and other stakeholders to prevent underage use of its products and to switch adult smokers away from conventional cigarettes. "Our customer base is the world's 1 billion adult smokers and we do not intend to attract underage users," the statement said. (Juul has halted sales of mint-flavored pods.)