The controversy over e-cigarettes continues and cities across the country are taking action against the sale of the smoking devices. This includes a lawsuit recently filed by the City of Chicago against more than two dozen e-cigarette companies and vendors that alleges their online sale and marketing efforts violate the city’s municipal code because it exposes minors to the product.
According to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, city officials intend to continue their “aggressive steps to keep our children free from the dangers of addiction, protect our residents and fight for a healthier Chicago.”
The suit accuses the 27 companies named of actively marketing their products to minors on websites and through social media campaigns and calls their actions “immoral and unethical.” The lawsuit was filed following tests conducted by the Bureau of Consumer Protection and Business Affairs determined that minors were able to purchase e-cigarette accessories online using a pre-paid Visa gift card.
The investigation also revealed that buyers are not asked to verify their age at any point during the purchasing process.
Chicago raised the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21 in 2016.
In addition to the online activities of the e-tobacco companies, four brick-and-mortar stores in the city were also named in the lawsuit.
This is the city’s second lawsuit against e-cigarette retailers, the other coming last November 2018 and accusing nine different retailers of selling to minors. The lawsuit is still pending, but at least three of the companies named have ceased their sales of e-cigs and another has left Chicago.
Cities Across the Country Legislating Against E-Cigarette Use
Chicago is far from the only city targeting e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers.
San Francisco just announced it wants to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in the city and prohibit companies including Juul – currently the country’s biggest e-cigarette manufacturer – from leasing city-owned property. One city supervisor that supports the efforts stated she would “have liked for them to have been gone yesterday.”
New York is also taking action against the e-cigarette market.
The city is home to numerous vape shops, but the industry faces a lot of opposition from the government and some members of the public.
In 2017, New York’s government signed an amendment that prohibited the use of e-cigarettes and all vaping devices in locations where traditional tobacco products are already banned. The amendment was part of the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act and pertains to most indoor settings, as well as certain public outdoor settings.
Now the state is also considering a ban that would regulate all but a few flavors of the liquid that is used in e-cigarettes in an effort to make vaping less attractive to minors. Some counties have also raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco products including e-cigs to 21.
And in Massachusetts, the Yarmouth Board of Health recently shelved proposals to ban the sale of e-cigarettes, as well as all mint, menthol, and wintergreen flavored tobacco products. Instead of a blanket ban, the board instead decided it would try a public education program first. The town had previously banned the sale of e-cigs and accessories to consumers under the age of 21.
Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.