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New York Sues JUUL For Allegedly Fueling Youth Vaping Epidemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York Attorney General Letitia James says the state is suing JUUL for allegedly fueling the youth vaping epidemic.

The lawsuit also claims the company misled consumers and misrepresented its products by saying they're a safer alternative to smoking.

"There can be no doubt that JUUL's aggressive advertising has significantly contributed to the public health crisis that has left youth in New York and across the country addicted to its products," James said in a statement Tuesday. "By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, JUUL is putting countless New Yorkers at risk. I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth."

WEB EXTRA: N.Y. A.G. Letitia James Announces Lawsuit Against JUUL 

The state health department estimates one million New Yorkers vape, and 220,000 of those users are under the age of 18. Officials also say 4.1 million high school students and 1.2 million middle school students currently use e-cigarettes.

After the attorney general announced the lawsuit, JUUL sent CBS2 the following statement:

"While we have not yet reviewed the complaint, 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. As part of that process, we recently stopped accepting orders for our Mint JUULpods in the U.S., suspended all broadcast, print, and digital product advertising in the U.S. and are investing in scientific research to ensure the quality of our FDA Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) application and expanding our commitment to develop new technology to reduce youth use. Our customer base is the world's 1 billion adult smokers and we do not intend to attract underage users."

Last week, New York raised the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers had pushed to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, but a court blocked their efforts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced a potential link between the rise in vaping-related illnesses to Vitamin E acetate, a compound found in some black market THC products.

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