The Montgomery County Council publicly authorized its lawsuit against Juul Labs and Altria Group on Tuesday.
The council is suing the electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) manufacturers and distributors for targeting minors in their marketing, breaking state and federal law. The lawsuit was filed on Oct. 11.
In the statement on behalf of the council, Council President Nancy Navarro said, “The Council authorizes taking legal action against Juul Labs and Altria Group. This lawsuit supports our ongoing efforts to protect our community members from the public health impacts associated with e-cigarette products and vaping.”
Navarro went on to say that the county has three pieces of legislation pending that would restrict sales of e-cigarettes and try to keep them away from young people.
On Sept. 17, Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Craig Rice introduced Bill 29-19, to stop e-cigarette manufacturers from selling their products to stores within a half-mile of a middle or high school.
On Sept. 24, Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Albornoz proposed Bill 31-19, to make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products or e-cigarettes, with exception, and make it illegal for anyone to sell tobacco products or e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21, with exception. Active duty service members 18 years and older can buy these products.
On Oct. 1, Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Albornoz introduced Bill 32-19, which would stop manufacturers from selling flavored e-cigarettes to stores within one mile of a middle or high school, library, park or recreational facility in Montgomery County.
On Wednesday, County Executive Marc Elrich released his own statement supporting the council.
He said that e-cigarettes were supposed to be an alternative to traditional smoking, but the industry turned out to be manipulating young people, instead.
“Montgomery County will continue to make it clear we will not tolerate this type of deception. We will not stand by and let companies or people mislead our children and citizens,” the statement concluded.