Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing vape giant JUUL for flooding social media channels with vibrant ads and young social media influencers popular with teens from August 2016 to April 2018 and, as a result, luring thousands of Washington youth to try the nicotine-packed vapes, Law360 reports. This, the lawsuit states, violated the state’s consumer protection laws and sidestepped the state’s tobacco product licensing requirements.

“JUUL put profits before people,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Pushing unfair and deceptive marketing strategies appealing to youth, the company fueled a staggering rise in vaping among teens. JUUL’s conduct reversed decades of progress fighting nicotine addiction, and they must be held accountable.”

The complaint states that JUUL co-founder James Monsees admitted during a CNBC interview two years ago that the company’s marketing of its vapes — which brought in scores of underage vapers — was “flawed.” JUUL has been accused of using similar marketing tactics as Big Tobacco decades ago, creating a new generation of nicotine addicts, critics say.

“A staggering 27.5% of high school students had recently smoked electronic cigarettes in 2019, up from 1.5% in 201,” Ferguson said. “And 10.5% of middle school students had done the same, up from 0.6% in 2011.”

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