A now-defunct e-cigarette retailer and its two owners have agreed to pay nearly $ 51 million to settle allegations they illegally marketed products to minors in Massachusetts, the attorney general’s office said Thursday. of State.
The settlement filed in Suffolk Superior Court against Eonsmoke LLC, Gregory Grishayev and Michael Tolmach “resolves allegations that the defendants have directly targeted young people for the sale of its vaping products through marketing and advertising aimed at appeal to young people, âthe attorney general’s office said.
The company – based in New Jersey and disbanded last year – has not verified the age of online shoppers of nicotine electronics, e-liquids and nicotine pods, and has failed to ensure that shipments of their products were received by someone legally authorized to do so, the office alleged.
The state’s legal minimum age for purchasing products for smokers is 21.
The company has stopped selling its products to online customers in Massachusetts after the attorney general’s office sent a cease and desist letter in September 2019.
A message was left with a lawyer listed in online court records as representing Eonsmoke and the two men.
Under the settlement, the company will pay $ 50 million while Grishayev and Tolmach will pay a total of $ 750,000.
In addition, if Grishayev and Tolmach want to resume sales of tobacco products in Massachusetts in the future, they must obtain clearance from the Federal Food and Drug Administration and notify the state.
Settlement requires the approval of a judge.
“Eonsmoke coordinated a campaign that intentionally targeted young people and sold dangerous and addicting vaping products directly to minors through its website,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “We were the first to take action against this business and its owners, and today we hold them accountable and permanently stop them from carrying out these illegal practices in our state.”
In the initial lawsuit filed in May 2019, the state alleged that Eonsmoke targeted teens by selling products with high nicotine levels in “dessert flavors” such as bitter gum, cream of donut and lemonade. pink.
The company also made reference to popular youth culture in its advertising and advertised on social media platforms commonly used by young people, the attorney general said.
The lawsuit against Eonsmoke was the first of eight brought by the Attorney General against online e-cigarette retailers since Healey launched an investigation into the industry in 2018.
Cease and desist letters have also been sent to a number of other e-cigarette companies to prevent them from selling their products to residents of Massachusetts.
A Massachusetts law, the first in the country, banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and e-liquids, came into effect on June 1, 2020.