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Florida attorney general investigating 22 vaping companies

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Oct. 16 an investigation into 22 companies doing business in her state concerning the marketing and selling of e-cigarette products.

Moody's investigation focuses on bigger industry players such as market leader Juul Labs Inc., NJOY Inc. and Imperial Brands PLC's Blu e-cigarette brand, along with smaller operators. Juul, NJOY and Fontem Ventures, the Imperial Brands subsidiary that oversees Blu, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Florida investigation.

"As a mother, I cannot sit on the sidelines while underage vaping skyrockets and our next generation becomes addicted to nicotine," Moody said in a press release. "It's illegal under Florida law to sell these products to anyone under 18, yet vaping among our youth is out of control."

Moody announced the investigation after concluding a statewide fact-gathering effort into a rise in youth vaping in Florida. E-cigarette use among Florida high school students increased 58% from 2017 to 2018, according to an April report released by the Florida Department of Health.

The increase in Florida youth vaping is part of a national trend of increased youth vaping in the U.S. Nationally, 78% more U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018 as compared to 2017, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Moody said her investigation will focus on the marketing practices and online sales strategies of the companies to see if they intentionally targeted minors and if the companies can support their marketing and health claims.

The Florida investigation joins a growing number of probes into the U.S. e-cigarette market. The Federal Trade Commission this month said it was seeking information from six e-cigarette makers related to sales and advertising methods. Attorneys general from Illinois and District of Columbia launched in September investigations into Juul's product designs and marketing, The Associated Press reported.