NYC Sues 11 Companies for Illegal Distribution of Flavored Vapes

New York City Sues E-Cigarette Companies

New York, NY – In a major crackdown on the illegal sale of flavored disposable vapes, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix announced today that the city has filed a lawsuit against 11 wholesalers. The defendants, located in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and upstate New York, are accused of distributing youth-friendly flavored disposable vapes to retail vape and smoke shops, convenience stores, and directly to consumers over the internet, in violation of federal, state, and city laws.

Lawsuit Aims to Protect Public Health and Combat Youth Nicotine Addiction

The lawsuit, filed in New York County State Supreme Court, seeks to block the defendants from further sales of these illegal items and to recover damages and penalties under state and city statutes. It is a companion to the city’s pending 2023 federal lawsuit, in which two defendants are already subject to court orders barring their sales and shipments of flavored vapes into the city.

Mayor Adams emphasized the importance of this action in protecting public health, particularly that of children, stating, “Part of protecting public safety means protecting the health of New Yorkers, including our most vulnerable – our children – and this administration is committed to enforcing the law when it comes to illegal vape sales. This lawsuit will help hold 11 wholesalers accountable for their part in the illegal sale of flavored disposable vapes at a time when nicotine addiction among middle and high school youth is exploding.”

Defendants Accused of Violating Federal, State, and City Laws

The defendants are alleged to have distributed, and continue to distribute, youth-friendly-flavored disposable vapes – such as Strawberry Colada, Mellow Mint, Blueberry Energize, and Frozen Creamsicle – to retail vape and smoke shops, convenience stores, and directly to consumers over the internet. These actions are in violation of federal, New York state, and New York City laws, including the FDA’s ban on the marketing of flavored vape products and New York City’s complete ban on the possession and sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

Alarming Trends in Youth Vaping and Nicotine Addiction

The lawsuit comes amidst growing concerns about the prevalence of e-cigarette use among young people. Federal health authorities have warned that youth-friendly flavors in e-cigarettes, often packaged with cartoon characters, tempt kids to “vape” high levels of nicotine, contributing to an epidemic of nicotine addiction among middle and high school youth.

Data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that one in 10 middle and high school students across the country had used e-cigarettes in a 30-day sample period. In New York City, the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 15.2 percent of public high school students and 6.7 percent of public middle school students surveyed reported current use of electronic vape products.

City’s Ongoing Efforts to Combat Illegal Vaping, Tobacco, and Cannabis Products

This legal action is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers, particularly young people, from dangerous, illegal vaping, tobacco, and cannabis products. The Adams administration has formed the New York City Sheriff’s Office Joint Compliance Task Force to Address Illegal Smoke Shops, which is dedicated to conducting enforcement against unlicensed establishments selling these products.

Since the start of the Adams administration, the city has imposed more than $240 million in penalties, closed over 180 illegal businesses, conducted over 48,000 inspections, and issued 18,000 summonses to businesses illegally selling these types of products. The city has also sent letters to almost 500 landlords and owners of buildings across the five boroughs, warning that they could be legally liable for the continued unlicensed sale of cannabis or tobacco products by their tenants.

Defendants and Their Alleged Illegal Activities

The lawsuit names 11 defendants and outlines their alleged illegal activities:

  1. EnvironMD Group LLC (Brooklyn, NY): Sold flavored Myle Meta Bar brand and Fume brand disposable e-cigarettes to a Brooklyn wholesaler.
  2. GT Imports (Plainview, NY): Delivered unspecified brands of flavored disposable e-cigarettes with an approximate value of $1 million to various wholesalers located in New York City.
  3. Kayla Wholesale, Inc., d/b/a The Vapery (Jericho, NY): Supplied flavored e-cigarettes, including STIG mango and STIG Lush Ice, to distributors and directly to consumers in the city over the internet.
  4. KLCC Wholesale Inc. (Brooklyn, NY): Purchased large quantities of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, including Hyde and Breeze brands, from out-of-state distributors, presumptively for sale to city wholesalers or retailers.
  5. V. Trading, LLC (Brooklyn, NY): Purchased thousands of flavored disposable e-cigarettes from out-of-state dealers, presumptively for sale to city wholesalers or retailers.
  6. Pioneer Distribution, Inc. a/k/a a/k/a Seller Supreme LLC (Brooklyn, NY): Purchased hundreds of flavored Elf Bar disposable e-cigarettes from an out-of-state distributor and sells flavored disposable e-cigarettes over the internet to consumers in the city.
  7. RZ Smoke Inc. (New Hyde Park, NY): Sold hundreds of flavored Air Bar flavored disposable e-cigarettes to a Brooklyn wholesaler.
  8. Star Zone Inc. (Oceanside, NY): Delivered approximately 14,000 flavored disposable e-cigarettes of various brands to retailers throughout the city for which it was paid $650,000.
  9. Urban Smoke Distributors (Woodside, NY): Purchased thousands of flavored disposable e-cigarettes from in-state and out-of-state distributors, presumptively for sale to city wholesalers or retailers.
  10. Vape More Inc. and More LLC (Latham, NY): Sold various flavored Elf Bar and Lost Mary disposable e-cigarettes to Urban Smoke Distributors in the city.
  11. Vape Plus Distribution Corp. a/k/a G&A Distribution (Brooklyn, NY): Purchased thousands of flavored disposable e-cigarettes from various distributors outside the city, presumptively for sale to city retailers.

Support from State Lawmakers and City Council Members

Several New York State Assemblymembers and New York City Council Members have expressed their support for the city’s lawsuit and have introduced legislation to further combat the sale of illegal vaping products and flavored tobacco products.

As the city continues its fight against the illegal distribution of flavored e-cigarettes, it remains committed to protecting the health and well-being of its residents, particularly the youth, from the dangers of nicotine addiction and the deceptive practices of manufacturers and sellers.

News source: NYC Gov

Sophia Bennett