- Njoy, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Altria, has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against 34 foreign and domestic retailers, distributors and manufacturers of disposable e-cigarette products, according to a press release from Altria on Thursday.
- The e-cigarette company is targeting companies it says are purveying flavored e-cigarette products in California, which has a sweeping flavor ban on such products.
- While no disposable vape products have been approved for sale in the U.S., cigarette retailers are increasingly concerned about the illicit market around these products, according to a Goldman Sachs report.
Njoy is seeking an injunction against the import, marketing and sale of the vaping products from companies like Elf Bar, Exco Bar and Breeze, among others.
The suit noted that these companies are selling products that violate California’s ban on flavored tobacco products, which went into effect in December 2022. It also noted that the companies don’t have authorization to sell these products in the U.S., and that some have been warned by the FDA.
The claims in the suit include unfair competition, false advertising, false advertising in violation of the Lanham Act and violation of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009. In addition to overseas companies in China, the lawsuit also targeted businesses in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Texas.
Njoy currently owns six of the 23 e-cigarette items that can be legally marketed and sold in the U.S., including the Njoy Ace and five tobacco-flavored pods.
“Today there are two markets – one for those who play by the rules and one for those who flagrantly ignore them,” said Murray Garnick, Altria’s executive vice president and general counsel, in the release. “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.”
Njoy said it may add additional defendants.
Unapproved, disposable vaping products are an increasing concern to cigarette sellers as well. In a survey representing about 60,000 retail locations that sell tobacco products across the U.S., Goldman Sachs found “concern about the illicit vapor market, which has benefited from continued [premarket tobacco product application] delays,” and that retailers were seeing “significant traffic moving to disposable flavored e-cigs.”
Njoy, which was acquired by Altria earlier this year, is also involved in a patent and copyright dispute with fellow vaping company Juul, with both companies suing the other, claiming infringement.