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City Attorney Mike Feuer Settles With Vape Companies

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CITY ATTORNEY MIKE FEUER SETTLES WITH VAPE COMPANIES

LOS ANGELES – In the midst of a nationwide swarm of vape-related illness and death, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has entered into a four-year statewide stipulated judgment with NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC over allegations that the companies illegally marketed vape products to minors and sold vaping products over the internet without following state-mandated age verification requirements. In addition to a $350,000 penalty, each company will now be required to adhere to a multitude of strict regulations ensuring they do not advertise or sell to children in California.

“The vape industry is taking a page out of big tobacco’s old playbook by marketing and selling these addictive, harmful products to kids. We’re going to do all we can to put a stop to it,” said Feuer. “As our nation grapples with hundreds of cases of severe lung disease and eight deaths attributed to vaping, vape companies must change their practices so they don’t put our kids’ health at risk.”

In 2018, Feuer filed unfair competition lawsuits under Business & Professions Code section 17200 against three vape companies – NEwhere Inc., VapeCo Distribution LLC, and Kandypens – alleging the illegal sale of vaping products online without proper age verification, the sale of tobacco products without federal approval and marketing that promotes youth consumption of tobacco. In addition to $350,000 in penalties, both NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC will now be subject to an array of strict regulations ensuring that they do not advertise, market or sell vape products to minors anywhere in the State of California. (The City remains in active litigation against Kandypens.) Among the myriad new stipulations:

– They cannot engage in any activity that is intended to directly or indirectly target minors in their promotions, advertising or marketing or that is intended to initiate, maintain or increase the incidence of youth vaping in California;

– They must activate and keep activated all available age-gating functions on their tobacco product brands’ social media accounts to prevent minors from accessing them;

– They cannot promote any of their tobacco products on media platforms directed to minors;

– They cannot use celebrities, influencers or models under the age of 30 nor can they use those with a substantial youth following to advertise, market, or promote tobacco products in California;

– They cannot sponsor any musical, athletic, artistic or other social/cultural event to promote their tobacco products to California consumers.

Additionally, the stipulation sets forth a series of steps that NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC must take to ensure they are only selling to people 21 and older, including age verification with a government ID, payment only by personal check or credit card – no longer accepting gift cards, and only delivering to physical addresses matching personal checks or credit cards. In addition, both companies must comply with all federal, state, and local requirements regarding the sale and marketing of tobacco products.

“The vape industry is taking a page out of big tobacco’s old playbook by marketing and selling these addictive, harmful products to kids. We’re going to do all we can to put a stop to it,” said Feuer. “As our nation grapples with hundreds of cases of severe lung disease and eight deaths attributed to vaping, vape companies must change their practices so they don’t put our kids’ health at risk.”

In 2018, Feuer filed unfair competition lawsuits under Business & Professions Code section 17200 against three vape companies – NEwhere Inc., VapeCo Distribution LLC, and Kandypens – alleging the illegal sale of vaping products online without proper age verification, the sale of tobacco products without federal approval and marketing that promotes youth consumption of tobacco. In addition to $350,000 in penalties, both NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC will now be subject to an array of strict regulations ensuring that they do not advertise, market or sell vape products to minors anywhere in the State of California. (The City remains in active litigation against Kandypens.) Among the myriad new stipulations:

– They cannot engage in any activity that is intended to directly or indirectly target minors in their promotions, advertising or marketing or that is intended to initiate, maintain or increase the incidence of youth vaping in California;

– They must activate and keep activated all available age-gating functions on their tobacco product brands’ social media accounts to prevent minors from accessing them;

– They cannot promote any of their tobacco products on media platforms directed to minors;

– They cannot use celebrities, influencers or models under the age of 30 nor can they use those with a substantial youth following to advertise, market, or promote tobacco products in California;

– They cannot sponsor any musical, athletic, artistic or other social/cultural event to promote their tobacco products to California consumers.

Additionally, the stipulation sets forth a series of steps that NEwhere Inc. and VapeCo Distribution LLC must take to ensure they are only selling to people 21 and older, including age verification with a government ID, payment only by personal check or credit card – no longer accepting gift cards, and only delivering to physical addresses matching personal checks or credit cards. In addition, both companies must comply with all federal, state, and local requirements regarding the sale and marketing of tobacco products.

Wednesday, in the face of this escalating public health emergency and the role played by flavors in making vaping attractive to minors, Feuer released a report to the LA City Council detailing options for restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products within the City of Los Angeles and recommending a ban on such sales.

Although electronic cigarettes purportedly were created to help adult smokers break their addiction to cigarettes, it is estimated that 3.6-million teens around the nation are now vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As of September 19, the CDC has identified around 530 probable cases of vaping associated pulmonary injury (VAPI) across 38 states and since the end of August, eight people have died. On Monday, the CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to enhance its investigation into these illnesses.

Read the settlement agreement here.

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Business

RAGE is Latest Venue to Fall Victim to the Pandemic

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Another LGBTQ+ Nightlife Destination Has Fallen Victim to the Pandemic

WEST HOLLYWOOD (L.A. Magazine) — Rage nightclub has been a destination for LGBTQ+ nightlife in the bustling Santa Monica Boulevard corridor of West Hollywood for decades. Now, nearly 40 years after first opening its doors, the club has announced it has permanently closed, yet another local business to collapse amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rage nightclub management lays some portion of the blame on their landlord, Monte Overstreet. The club’s now-former general manager, Ron Madrill, told Q Voice News that rent for the location was already “very high” prior to operations shutting down in March. He says he believes an impasse over rent payments may have contributed to Rage’s closure.

Overstreet also reportedly owns the space formerly occupied by neighboring bar Flaming Saddles Saloon, which also announced […]

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Business

21 Workers Test Positive for Coronavirus at Rock n Roll Ralphs

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Workers protest outside Ralphs in Hollywood where 21 have tested positive for coronavirus

HOLLYWOOD (KTLA) — Workers rallied Friday outside a Ralphs store in Hollywood where 21 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group called on the store to take more aggressive action when staff test positive for the virus, and to ramp up efforts to protect the grocery store employees, who are considered essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

They said they speak for thousands of workers who are afraid they aren’t getting enough protection as the virus continues to spread countywide, infecting more than 24,000 as of Friday.

The Ralphs at 7257 W. Sunset Blvd. has had an outbreak involving several workers who tested positive for the virus, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, which lists businesses and […]

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Business

‘Stay Put, Order In’ and Dine With Friends on Zoom, Says Mayor

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WEST HOLLYWOOD — WeHo is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and our community members are used to gathering around restaurant tables and enjoying meals together. Now, there’s an opportunity to, instead, gather around kitchen tables at home and enjoy a meal (or many!) while supporting our local restaurants.

“One of the worst things about the Safer At Home directive is being disconnected from friends, neighbors, and the city around us,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico. “Don’t be alone if you don’t have to be – take advantage of the technology out there and invite a friend to Zoom in for Ziti or share some Farfalle over FaceTime.”

Mealtime is a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends, family, and loved ones using virtual teleconferencing technology, while partaking in your favorite delivered or takeout food.

City Encourages Residents to Support Local Restaurants During Safer At Home Orders

Many West Hollywood restaurants remain open and are offering takeout, curbside, and delivery meals, which are sensitive to social distancing during the emergency. The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to offer a directory of “Stay Put, Order In” eateries in West Hollywood, which is accessible by visitingwww.weho.org/coronavirus (click the “Stay Put, Order In” link!) or www.wehochamber.com/dinein. This list is updated daily.

“We need to start hanging out together, and talking, and seeing each other again. So, why not plan to #WeHoDinnerConnect this week – maybe Saturday at 8 p.m.? Or Sunday at 7 p.m.? Or even just 15 minutes of screen-to-screen gossip,” said Mayor D’Amico. “And you don’t have to cook a thing… local restaurants have meals and menus tailored to take-away choices and they’re ready to send food over to your house or make arrangements for you to pick it up.”

If picking up food, remember to wear face coverings, which are required to enter essential businesses.

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