Florida Attorney Gen. Moody takes on vaping companies for advertising to minors

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed complaints Thursday against two Florida vaping companies.

The complaints, filed against Monster Vape and Lizard Juice, LLC, allege that the companies are marketing their products to minors and failing to properly verify the age of their customers. The complaints stem from a seven-month investigation into more than 21 companies selling vaping products in Florida and using marketing tactics that target minors.

“I am appalled at the marketing of these addictive products to minors by the defendants in this case. These companies’ marketing practices include labeling and advertising similar to children’s breakfast cereal products, among others, and video game giveaways, to entice our children to buy their addictive products,” Moody said in a statement. “As Florida’s Attorney General, and a mother, I will not allow these companies, or any other vaping business, to violate the law and target our children with products that are addictive and particularly harmful to their still-developing minds and bodies.”

According to the complaint, Lizard Juice uses images of and includes flavors like Lucky Charms and Trix cereal, which Moody alleges appeals to children. Additionally, the company does not verify the age of its customers, she said in the allegation. Additionally, the company makes deceptive claims in its advertising, like “Remember that the reason you’re doing this is to make your life better,” a claim that vaping can help you stop smoking, for which there is no substantive proof, the complaint said.

For Monster Vape, the complaint alleges the company promotes flavors like reminiscent of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with packaging that looks like Smuckers Jam products or Smuckers pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Additionally, the company uses PlayStation and Xbox devises in promotional giveaways, products directly appealing to young people, Moody said. Monster Vape also did not appropriately verify the age of its consumers, the complaint said.

E-cigarette use in Florida high school students has increased 63 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the Florida Department of Health. Nearly one in four Florida high school students say they vape, according to a Florida DOH report. The DOH reported 119 cases of vaping-related pulmonary illnesses statewide, including two deaths, Moody said.

Florida law prohibits the sale or delivery of nicotine products to anyone under the age of 18. Additionally, Moody worked with legislators this year to ban the sale and marketing of vaping products to minors. That law, which would have banned flavors that attract kids, brought age restrictions in line with federal guidelines and required vaping education classes for minors caught in possession of e-cigarette products, passed both houses of the legislature in that state, but has not been sent to the Governor yet.

Moody’s complaint seeks to prohibit Monster Vape and Lizard Juice from using cartoons and other images that appeal to children in its marketing, and require that the companies verify the age of the purchaser. Additionally, the complaint seeks civil penalties and court costs.

Moody said her investigation into the other 19 vaping companies continues.

Liz Carey

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