Best Practices

Massachusetts AG’s Lawsuit Against E-Cigarette Retailer Provides Guidance On How Not to Market to Kids

MA AG Maura Healey sued e-cigarette retailer Eonsmoke last week

Last week, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sued e-cigarette retailer Eonsmoke, alleging that the company illegally marketed its vaping products to children.  The AG also alleged that Eonsmoke failed to verify the age of online purchasers of its products and failed to ensure that shipments of these products were received by a person 21 years or older, the state’s minimum legal sales age for smoking products.

While this action is more evidence that Juul and other e-cigarette retailers are going to be facing increasing scrutiny about their marketing tactics, the complaint in this case also provides useful insights for advertisers about how to avoid engaging in marketing tactics that are seen as directed to children.  Here are some important take-aways.

Don’t design the product so that it is appealing to children.  The AG pointed to the fact that Eonsmoke sells e-liquids that come in more than fifteen sweet fruit flavors, including sour gummy, pink lemonade, pineapple crush, and peach madness.  The AG also said that Eonsmoke sells e-liquids that are associated with candy and cereal flavors that are appealing to kids, including gummy bear, donut cream, and cereal loops.  In addition, the AG said that Eonsmoke’s products were more appealing to kids because they were customizable with skins, colors, finishes, and accessories.  It’s important to consider, then, whether the product design itself may have particular appeal to kids. 

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