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Arizona AG suing 2 vaping companies he says targeted youth

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PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Tuesday his office is suing two companies that manufacture vaping products, Juul and Eonsmoke.

“We allege that they have contributed to the vaping epidemic that’s infiltrated our schools and are creating addiction problems for youth throughout the state,” he said at a press conference.

Brnovich said the companies enticed young people to use their products with kid-friendly flavors and misrepresented the nicotine levels present in their products.

He also said Juul heavily advertised its products through social media influencers and DJs, figures who are popular with younger people.

“In summary, our two lawsuits allege that what we have is two major players in the vaping industry that have purposely marketed their products toward people that are underage,” he said.

Although President Donald Trump’s administration has been working to decrease the numbers of youths using e-cigarettes, Brnovich said he doesn’t want to leave the problem up to the federal government.

“I’m not going to rely on Washington, D.C., to solve Arizona problems,” he said. “Just because the (Food and Drug Administration) has announced or promulgated some rules, that doesn’t affect what we have to deal with and the reality today.”

Last week, the feds announced a ban against fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes favored by high school and middle school students. Menthol and tobacco-flavors will be allowed to remain on the market.

Several Arizona school districts have already announced plans to join national lawsuits against Juul, also alleging the companies targeted youth with their advertising.

The most recent Arizona Youth Survey found that 27.7% of eighth graders reported they’ve used e-cigarettes or other vaping devices on one or more occasion. That figure was 39.3% for 10th graders and 45.8% for high school seniors.

A national survey released in November found more teens than ever are using e-cigarettes. About 28% of high school students and 11% of middle school students said they’ve used e-cigarettes within the past month.

In total, 5.3 million youth said they’re using e-cigarettes, up from last year’s 3.6 million.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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