RICHMOND, Va. — NJOY LLC filed litigation against manufacturers of disposable vapor products that are being sold illegally.
NJOY, an operating company of Altria Group Inc., is suing 34 foreign and domestic manufacturers, distributors and online retailers of illicit disposable vapor products that are unlawfully marketed and sold in California and elsewhere.
The suit alleges that these companies manufacture, distribute, market and sell products that violate California's flavor ban law, are unlawful under federal law and subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action, and illegally compete against companies that comply with state and federal laws.
The suit seeks a nationwide injunction against the import, marketing and sale of these illicit products, and significant compensatory and punitive damages.
"These companies knowingly violate federal and state laws and need to be held accountable," said Murray Garnick, Altria's executive vice president and general counsel. "Today there are two markets — one for those who play by the rules and one for those who flagrantly ignore them. We are taking this action because the current state of the illicit e-vapor market is intolerable, and we must see more action from FDA and others."
The litigation, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, is brought under four claims: unfair competition, false advertising, false advertising in violation of the Lanham Act, and violation of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009.
Named defendants in the suit manufacture and distribute illicit disposable vapor products which include, but are not limited to, brands such as: Breeze, Elf Bar, EB, EB Create, Esco Bar, Flum, Juice Box, Lava Plus, Loon, Lost Mary, Mr. Fog and Puff Bar. Domestic defendants include companies doing business in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Foreign defendants are all based in China, according to Altria.
None of the defendants has received premarket authorization from the FDA, and according to the tobacco company, several defendants have not filed required premarket tobacco product applications.
Several of these defendants have already received warning letters from the FDA stating that their products are adulterated and misbranded, and cannot be sold without a marketing authorization. Additionally, some of the defendants are subject to an FDA-ordered import alert authorizing U.S. Customs and Border agents to seize their products, Altria stated.
NJOY may add additional manufacturers, distributors and retailers to this complaint, and will consider further litigation activity.
Richmond-based Altria has leading portfolio of tobacco products for U.S. tobacco consumers age 21 and older. Its vision is to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a smoke-free future.
The company's wholly owned subsidiaries include leading manufacturers of both combustible and smoke-free products: Philip Morris USA Inc., John Middleton Co., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, Helix Innovations LLC and NJOY.
Additionally, Altria has a majority-owned joint venture, Horizon Innovations LLC, for the U.S. marketing and commercialization of heated tobacco stick products and, through a separate agreement, it has the exclusive U.S. commercialization rights to the IQOS Tobacco Heating System and Marlboro HeatSticks through April 2024.
Its equity investments include Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV and Cronos Group Inc., a leading Canadian cannabinoid company.