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California and Los Angeles County File Lawsuit Against JUUL

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LOS ANGELES – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey and the County of Los Angeles today announced a lawsuit against San Francisco-based electronic cigarette maker, JUUL, Labs, Inc (JUUL).

The lawsuit alleges that—contrary to the company’s claims that its product is aimed only at adults – JUUL targeted young people through advertising and failed to give warnings about the product’s chemical exposure and risks for cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm.

It also alleges that JUUL unlawfully failed to verify the age of California consumers and then violated the privacy rights of minors by keeping the personal email addresses of underage individuals who failed age verification on their website and using those email addresses to send them marketing materials.

The use of flavored e-cigarettes, or vaping, by young people in the United States, including middle and high schoolers, continues to increase rapidly, according to reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. JUUL sales have grown dramatically and now make up more than 64 percent of the U.S. e-cigarette market. Smoking remains the number one preventable killer in the United States and causes over 480,000 deaths per year.

Medical researchers have shown that many JUUL users continue to smoke cigarettes and that children who were not likely at risk to start smoking cigarettes have done so as a result of their use of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. Further, as of November 13, 2019, the CDC reported 42 deaths in patients with e-cigarette or vaping product use, with a further 2,172 cases of associated lung injury reported nationwide. Four of the deaths reported were patients in California.

“We’ve worked too hard, committed our hard-earned money for too long combatting harmful tobacco use to stand idly by as we now lose Californians to vaping and nicotine addiction,” said Attorney General Becerra. “JUUL adopted the tobacco industry’s infamous playbook, employing advertisements that had no regard for public health and searching out vulnerable targets.

Today we take legal action against the deceptive practices that JUUL and the e-cigarette industry employ to lure our kids into their vaping web. We will hold JUUL and any other company that fuels a public health crisis accountable.”

“Our goal today is to safeguard the health, development and well-being of children, teenagers and young adults throughout California and the nation,” said District Attorney Lacey. “JUUL and other nicotine product makers must be held accountable when they knowingly fail to take the necessary protective measures and allow the sale of nicotine products to underage buyers. California and Los Angeles County have long been leaders in the fight against tobacco and nicotine use.

This lawsuit takes that fight to a new front, against a new threat. We will stay vigilant. We will aggressively prosecute offending vape and tobacco companies. And we will win this battle.”

“Nearly 1 in 10 high school students in LA County report using e-cigarettes. That is not by chance,” said Supervisor Hahn.“JUUL has systematically targeted the teen market with everything from the design of their products to their advertisements. With this lawsuit we are going to hold JUUL accountable for their hand in this public health crisis and do what we can to stop this company from creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.”

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the Alameda County Superior Court, alleges that JUUL’s viral marketing campaigns led millions of American youth to start vaping or “JUULing” without knowing the potential harms associated with nicotine or, in many cases, that the product even contained nicotine.

JUUL launched its sponsored promotional events in cities across California and elsewhere to distribute free samples of JUUL devices and their flavor pods to a young, trend-setting audience. The company engaged in a targeted social media campaign by marketing flavors that appeal to youth, such as mango, cool mint, crème brûlée, and cucumber. 

JUUL devices work by heating up a cartridge or “pod” containing liquids to create an aerosol, often called a vapor, that users inhale. The liquid contains nicotine, flavorings like mint or mango, and many other chemicals. The cartridges are small, potent and convenient. They plug into a USB drive and emit a small cloud of vapor when inhaled. Their use is hard to supervise and keep out of the hands of adolescents because the devices are easily concealed. 

JUUL was founded and launched in 2015. Before that, the founders studied the “Truth Tobacco Industry Documents,” internal tobacco industry corporate documents obtained during litigation between the state attorneys general and the tobacco industry. The documents include information on nicotine formulations and advertising techniques used to sell cigarettes. 

Since JUUL’s launch in 2015, youth vaping in the United States has almost doubled. From 2017 to 2019, e-cigarette use among high school students rose by 135 percent. In 2019, five million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes – an alarming increase of nearly 3 million students in two years. The majority of underage e-cigarette users report that JUUL is their usual brand.

Today’s lawsuit alleges that JUUL violated California law by:

  • Failing to include required warnings about exposure to chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
  • Delivering tobacco products directly to underage persons.
  • Delivering tobacco products directly to consumers without properly verifying their age.
  • Violating the privacy rights of minors by sending marketing material to the email addresses of underage individuals who failed age verification on JUUL’s website. 
  • Creating a public health epidemic, particularly among young people, with an addictive and harmful product. This epidemic has had serious negative effects on public schools across the state.  

Attorney General Becerra remains committed to combating tobacco and drug use. In August of 2019, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of attorneys general urging the video streaming industry to protect young viewers from depictions of tobacco use. In October of 2019, he announced the recipients of the California Department of Justice Tobacco Grant Program, which aims to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco products, especially to minors. The grant funds minor decoy operations, retailer training programs, youth outreach, tobacco retail license inspections, training for sworn personnel, hiring additional school resource officers, the installation of signage, and other activities.



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Consumer News

Trump’s Iran Conflict Has Americans Shopping for Bunkers

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Trump's Iran Conflict Has Americans Shopping for Bunkers

(TMZ) –The United States conflict with Iran has had Americans freaked the f**k out lately — and, accordingly, they’ve been looking far and wide to burrow themselves underground.

TMZ spoke with some of the best bunker retailers in the biz, and wouldn’t you know it … they say their sales and window shoppers have gone through the roof over the past week or so as missiles and nuke threats have been flying back and forth in the Middle East.

Let’s start with Rising S — which hawks pretty pricey shelters, ranging from $45k to a whopping $1 million. They tell us bunkers have been selling like hotcakes since Trump took out Gen. Soleimani. RS says they’ve sold 17 bomb shelters since then. A recent uptick of 150%.

Next is Hardened Structures … which sells some of the most expensive shelters — in the multi-million dollar range. Your average Joe probably can’t afford ’em, but they say they’ve had 12 inquires of late. Another surge.

President Trump says “the missiles fired last night (by Iran) were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.”

Then we got a company called Vivos, which tells us they’ve had 1,000-plus inquiries for products in the last week alone, and 300-plus in a 24-hour period. They’ve even sold 20 “spots” in shelter communities they operate. Pretty wild, huh?

Here’s another crazy thing … all of the places we contacted say most of their recent potential buyers have cited Iran as the reason they were in the market.

We circled back after DT’s Tuesday AM speech, which seemed to be an attempt to deescalate things. Nonetheless, nobody’s canceled.

Take cover, y’all!!!

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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Consumer News

WeHo Tech Company Shows Off Water-Proof Earbuds at CES 2020

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — For 2020, EarFun will be releasing its second pair of headphones- the Air, a next-generation True Wireless earbuds experience serving as an enhanced version of their critically-acclaimed earbuds, the EarFun Free.

CNET selected the EarFun Free as one of the Best True Wireless Earbuds of 2019, and it was also recommended by both CNET and PCMag as a budget-conscious alternative to other brands.

The new earbuds have been recognized by CES 2020 (Consumer Electronics Show- in Las Vegas this year) for featuring proprietary water-proofing technology, a substantial improvement over the basic design requirements needed to achieve IPX7 certification, all designed by EarFun’s R&D. Attendees can get a sneak peek at the new earbuds.

Just over a year ago, EarFun emerged from the plethora of small audio brands. What has separated them from the newcomers is how quickly EarFun has solidified themselves as a curator of value-conscious audio. 

“We wanted to create something very comfortable for casual listening and secure enough for physical sports or exercise” said Directing head of EarFun, CEO and Founder White Wong, “Our research and development team have been dedicated to achieving a combination consisting of a perfect fit that is wireless and convenient, and produces great sound all at an affordable price.”

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California

New Year, New Data Privacy Rights: CA Setting the Standard for Consumers

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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has issued an advisory for consumers highlighting their new rights as part of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into in effect on January 1, 2020.

The advisory describes consumers’ basic privacy rights under the CCPA and methods for consumers to exercise those rights, information about the data broker registry, and new guidelines related to data security. Enforcement of CCPA is the responsibility of the Office of the Attorney General.

“Knowledge is power, and in today’s world knowledge is derived from data. When it comes to your own data, you should be in control,” said Attorney General Becerra.

“In California we are rebalancing the power dynamic by putting power back in the hands of consumers. I encourage all Californians to take a moment to understand their new rights and exercise these rights to take control of their personal data.” 

CCPA grants new rights to California consumers

  • Right to know – Consumers may request that businesses disclose what personal information is collected, used, shared or sold by the business, in both categories and specific pieces of information;
  • Right to delete — Consumers may request that a business delete the consumer’s personal information held by both the business and by extension, the business’s service providers;
  • Right to opt-out —Consumers may direct a business to cease the sale of the consumer’s personal information. As required by the law, businesses must provide a “Do Not Sell” information link on their websites or mobile apps;
  • Rights for minors regarding opt-in consent — Children under the age of 16 must provide opt-in consent, with a parent or guardian consenting for children under 13; and
  • Right to non-discrimination — Businesses may not discriminate against consumers in terms of price or service when a consumer exercises a privacy right under CCPA.

Businesses subject to CCPA

Not all California businesses are subject to CCPA. A business is subject to CCPA if the business:

  • Has gross annual revenue in excess of $25 million;
  • Buys, receives, or sells the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices; or
  • Derives 50 percent or more of its annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information.

In addition, as proposed by the draft regulations, businesses that handle the personal information of more than four million consumers will have additional record-keeping obligations.

Data Broker Registry 

As required by California Civil Code section 1798.99.80, a data broker must register with the Attorney General at oag.ca.gov/data-broker/register. The law mandates that a data broker shall pay a registration fee and provide information including primary physical, email, and internet website addresses, as well as any additional information or explanation the data broker chooses to provide concerning its data collection practices. The registry is accessible to consumers.

Consumers’ private right of action in the case of a data breach 

Businesses are required to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices to protect consumers’ personal information, and CCPA authorizes a consumer to institute a civil action if their personal information, as defined in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (d) of Section 1798.81.5 is subject to an unauthorized breach as a result of a business’s failure to reasonably secure this data.

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