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New York joins states suing e-cigarette maker Juul

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a news conference at her office in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. New York has joined the ranks of states suing the nation's biggest e-cigarette maker, San Francisco based JUUL Labs. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK, NY – New York has joined the ranks of states suing the nation’s biggest e-cigarette maker, Juul Labs Inc., saying the company used deceptive marketing practices to reel in young users.

Attorney General Letitia James announced the lawsuit Tuesday against San Francisco-based Juul Labs Inc. It alleges the company contributed to a youth vaping epidemic using misleading sales tactics on popular social media sites. The suit also alleges that Juul advertising touted e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine, as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

In a written statement, Juul Labs said it had yet to review the lawsuit.

“We remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes,” it said.

The company previously ended the U.S. advertising campaigns and shut down the social media accounts that are the subject of the lawsuit. It also stopped selling most flavors of its e-cigarettes after complaints that they were aimed at attracting young users, not just smokers looking for an alternative to cigarettes.

California sued the company on Monday and North Carolina in May. Illinois, Massachusetts and several other states are also investigating Juul, which James said represents 70% of the e-cigarette market.

In the latest government survey, one in four high school students reported using e-cigarettes the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18.

"Juul basically took a page from Big Tobacco's playbook," James, New York state’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer, told a news conference at her Manhattan office.