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Baltimore County Files Lawsuit Against JUUL Labs

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- Baltimore County filed a lawsuit Wednesday against JUUL Labs, alleging the e-cigarette maker intentionally marketed its products to children and spread deceptive information about its products.

They join five other Maryland jurisdictions, Montgomery, Howard, Frederick, Garrett and Anne Arundel counties.

The County is alleging that it was forced to divert its resources to protect public health as JUUL Labs marketed its products to young people, "exposing them to a host of potential health risks."

"Nicotine and e-cigarette consumption comes with significant, lifelong health risks, and Baltimore County has an obligation to protect the health of our youngest residents," Olszewski said. "By taking legal action, we are highlighting those health risks – which include impacts to the heart, lungs, and brain – and holding accountable corporations who market these substances to young people."

JUUL Labs allegedly used advertising techniques long-banned for tobacco products, including using bright, fun themes that attract young people. They also ran advertisements on websites including Nick Junior and Cartoon Network, according to the lawsuit.

They also claim youth from Baltimore County are using e-cigarettes at "increasingly high rates."

"Though JUUL Labs have credited their product with curbing tobacco use, they have created a new public health crisis which has created a new generation of people addicted to nicotine – while profiting billions of dollars in the process," said County Attorney James R. Benjamin, Jr. "As a result, the health of Baltimore County residents has been harmed. In filing this lawsuit, the County is seeking compensation for the damage done to our communities."

JUUL released a statement later Wednesday afternoon:

"We will continue to reset the vapor category in the U.S. and seek to earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, legislators, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes. As part of that process, the company reduced its product portfolio, halted television, print, and digital product advertising and submitted a Premarket Tobacco Product Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration including comprehensive scientific evidence to support the harm reduction potential of its products and data-driven measures to address underage use. Our customer base is the world's 1 billion adult smokers. We will respond to the allegations through the appropriate legal channels."

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