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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Photo John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Juul Labs paid a company to place ads on student-focused websites including the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Seventeen magazine, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Why it matters: The suit, based on the findings of a two-year investigation, contradicts the e-cigarette company’s denial that it sought out teenagers to buy its products.

“Juul is responsible for the millions of young people nationwide addicted to e-cigarettes, reversing decades of progress combatting underage tobacco.”
— Maura Healey said in a press conference Wednesday

Background: Healey opened an investigation into Juul in 2018 over concerns about the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The claims in the filing are the strongest to date confirming Juul's influence on young people.

The filing:

  • Juul rejected initial marketing pitches from an ad company that touted the sleek, technological design of its devices for adults. Instead, the filing shows marketing images of stylish, young models vaping.
  • The complaint alleges Juul sent e-cigarettes to consumers who provided student email addresses at high schools.
  • The investigation also revealed an email from 2018 in which a Juul customer service representative instructed a student on how to get around age restrictions for online buying.

The big picture: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have sued Juul over its marketing practices.

  • The federal government raised the age to buy tobacco products to 21 and limited sales of some flavored e-cigarette products. Massachusetts passed several laws affecting the e-cigarette industry, effective June 1.

The other side, per Juul's senior director of communications Austin Finan:

“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...
"As part of that process in the U.S., we are preparing comprehensive and scientifically rigorous Premarket Tobacco Product Applications, stopped the sale of flavored pods other than Tobacco and Menthol in November, halted our television, print and digital product advertising, implemented a $1 billion restructuring plan, refrained from lobbying the Administration on its draft flavor guidance and support the final policy. Our customer base is the world’s 1 billion adult smokers and we do not intend to attract underage users."

Go deeper: Juul's very bad, no good rotten year

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

A young girl waves to onlookers through the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Ysidro, California, in Nov. 2018. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.