Colorado names founders and board members in updated JUUL lawsuit for targeting youth in marketing campaign, misrepresenting product’s health risks
Aug. 18, 2021 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that Colorado amended its lawsuit in Denver District Court against JUUL Labs, Inc. to include founders and board members who spearheaded the company’s deceptive marketing and messaging.
The initial lawsuit filed July 7, 2020, alleges e-cigarette developer JUUL targeted youth in its advertising while downplaying the health risks and addictive nicotine concentration of the e-cigarettes, violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. The amended complaint filed today adds JUUL founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees, along with JUUL board members Nicholas Pritzker and Ruiz Valani, as individual defendants.
“By holding accountable both individuals and businesses who contributed to the youth vaping epidemic in Colorado, we can send a clear message that there are consequences for those who prey on our young people,” said Weiser. “Youth vaping remains alarmingly high in Colorado and across the nation, and JUUL’s predatory marketing left a lasting impression on our youth.”
In July 2018, Colorado led the nation in youth vaping, and in 2019, 26.7% of students said in the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey that they definitely or probably would use an electronic vapor product in the next year.
The attorney general alleges that JUUL and the individual defendants’ actions led to Colorado’s youth vaping epidemic, including through marketing its product toward youth, targeting what it called “cool kids” in ads and social media campaigns. JUUL also recruited influencers on social media and used brand ambassadors to spread the word about its product to the youth market.
JUUL and its leaders made misleading statements about JUUL’s ingredients and also misrepresented its e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation product, even though many young people move from e-cigarettes to conventional cigarettes—the opposite of cessation.
Today’s amended complaint was filed partially under seal because JUUL claims portions of the complaint contain confidential information.
A Denver District Court judge largely ruled against JUUL’s efforts to dismiss the lawsuit in December 2020.