'E-cigarette' distributor settles with California, says it won't target minors
The settlement comes two months after the state reached a similar agreement with electronic cigarette maker Soterra.
Earlier this year, the state sued Smoking Everywhere for targeting minors and what it said were "misleading and irresponsible" ads. The battery-operated devices simulate the look and feel of a regular cigarette. But instead of smoke, they emit a vapor from a replaceable plastic cartridge than contains several chemicals, including liquid nicotine.
The state argued in its suit that selling flavored e-cigarettes -- strawberry, chocolate or mint, for example -- could appeal to youths. It also took issue with a video that featured radio show host Howard Stern claiming that "kids love 'em."
The company and makers of similar devices say e-cigarettes are safe because they don't contain carcinogens or tar or produce second-hand smoke. But the Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers that these products could be harmful. In its tests, the FDA found ingredients such as diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze.
Under the settlement, Smoking Everywhere has agreed to the following:
- Not to market or sell its products to minors. It must make its website age-restricted. Customers will have to show government-issued IDs to buy them in retail locations. The products will be sold behind a counter and advertising must note the age restriction.
- Not to sell flavored cartridges that could appeal to minors.
- Not to advertise its products as smoking cessation devices unless approved by the FDA for that purpose.
- Not to claim its products are safer than cigarettes or that they contain no tobacco, tar or carcinogens. It also can't claim that e-cigarettes produce no second-hand smoke unless reliable scientific evidence supports such claims.
- To follow quality control standards to eliminate harmful substances and submit to independent audits.
- To provide a warning on its packages, website and at retail stores that its products contain nicotine, a chemical known to be addictive and to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.
- To pay $170,000 in penalties and fees.
A representative for Smoking Everywhere could not be reached for comment.