Chicago suing online e-cigarette retailers accused of selling to minors

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city of Chicago is filing a lawsuit against eight online e-cigarette retailers accused of selling to minors.

The lawsuit against ELiquid Depot, Kandypens Inc., Major League Vaping, Mig Vapor, Sea100, Sex Vapor, Suorin USA, and Vista Vapors.will be filed on Tuesday. The retailers were allegedly caught red-handed selling to minors, the city said.

"Following the playbook used by Big Tobacco, the manufacturers and sellers of e-cigarettes and 'e-juices' are attempting to lure youth into a harmful addiction with unfair marketing clearly aimed at young people," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "From my first day in office I have used every tool to support Chicago's youth in making healthy choices for their futures and today's actions build on that track record."

The lawsuit follows a sting operation against 15 brick-and-mortar retailers. The city said the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection conducted the stings against the retailers: New Ways Partners/Citi Food Mart, Merab Enterprises/Citi Mart, Cool Stuff, Home Run Gas and Mini Mart, JCBK Gas Mart/Citgo Gas Mart Inc, Pari Mitra Inc/7-Eleven, Sam's Quick Stop Food, Sahar Foods Inc/Division Street Liquors, Areba Fashions Inc/Green Arch Food Mart, Rita's Liquors Inc/Polonia Food and Liquor, Shivam Bhole Corp./1400 Marketplace, Archway Amoco/Archway Amoco, KJJ Enterprises/Corliss Shell Dunkin Donuts, Magnolia Food Mart/My Place Food and Sweet Puff Tobacco Shop.

The city also sent formal requests for information letters to 33 e-cigarette manufacturers who the city believes may be engaging in unlawful and deceptive marketing practices that appear to be targeted to minors. If the companies do not respond, the city will serve them with subpoenas.

Meanwhile some doctors say research indicates e-cigarettes can affect brain development in teenagers.

"Most people who use tobacco began using these products when they were young because young brains are more likely to get addicted to nicotine," said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita. "In addition, nicotine negatively impacts brain development, which actually continues into adulthood."

Last week, the FDA said it would move to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in gas stations and convenience stores as early as this week, all in an effort to curb teen consumption. Some flavors include lollipop or cereal flavors.

Many in the vaping industry say the FDA regulations will make it harder for adult smokers to quit since e-cigarettes are sometimes used as an alternative to cigarettes.

Meanwhile, as part of the 2019 budget, the mayor plans to add two new investigators to focus on tobacco enforcement.
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