ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY is suing eight online electronic cigarette retailers, alleging they violated a law passed less than a month ago barring the sale of flavored tobacco products to Massachusetts residents.
Healey’s office apparently purchased flavored tobacco products from the retailers and had at least one person under 21 buy e-cigarettes as well. “We did an undercover investigation,” she said on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio. “We caught them, we sued them, and we’re taking them to court,” she said.
The complaint was filed Friday in Suffolk Superior Court, three weeks after legislation took effect banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. Healey’s office said the companies also failed to protect against delivery of their products to minors. She is seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent all flavored tobacco sales to Massachusetts while the case proceeds.
“These companies are in flagrant violation of our new state law that was put in place to protect young people from the serious harms caused by vaping,” said Healey in a statement. “Our state has been a leader in fighting this public health crisis, and we will continue to go after companies that ignore our laws and put young people at risk.”
The companies named in the suit are: Ejuiceconnect.com, LLC, based in Florida; Fuggin Vapor Co., also of Florida; Lan & Mike International Trading Inc. and VaporDNA, of California, Level Up Vapor, located in Kansas; Next Day Vapes, LLC, located in New Jersey; IPurchase Online, Vape Society Supply, and Vape Society Supplies, located in Nevada; Suorin USA, located in California; and 2nd Wife Vape, located in Texas. None of the companies responded to a request for comment.
The companies sold vaping products in “flavors that appeal to young people,” including “Unicorn Frappe,” “Gingerbread Dude” and “Cake,” according to the complaint. The complaint said the companies did not use a method of mailing or shipping of the products that requires the signatures of a person who is of the legal minimum age of 21 years or older.
The Bay State is the first in the country to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. Other states previously banned flavored e-cigarettes.
A hearing on Healey’s motion for a preliminary injunction is set for Jan. 7.
Healey previously sued Eonsmoke LLC for marketing and selling products to youth, and has an ongoing investigation into JUUL Labs Inc. over marketing to minors.
Spring 2019 data from the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey show that the percentage of state high school students who have used vape products is at an all-time high, at over 50 percent, with over 30 percent reporting that they had used vape products in the month before the survey was implemented. State and public health officials say that youths are often unaware that vaping products contain nicotine.