A shuttered e-cigarette seller will pay nearly $51 million to settle civil claims brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that it illegally marketed its sweetened nicotine pods to minors.
Eonsmoke LLC, which dissolved in 2020, will pay $50 million to the state, and its co-owners — Gregory Grishayev and Michael Tolmach — will kick in $750,000 for allegedly violating the Bay State’s strong consumer laws by targeting underaged consumers with social media ads for their vaping products.
The founders and the company had defaulted after not showing up in state court in January despite repeated warnings.
Eonsmoke, a New Jersey company that designed flavored nicotine pods to be compatible with the popular JUUL vaping pens, made their products appeal to youth and designed vaping products that appear to be fitness bands or easily concealable USB drives.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration forced Eonsmoke to pull nearly 100 of its products from sale due to a lack of necessary authorization to market them. The company had also been locked in litigation with JUUL over trademark claims.
Healey’s office said in complaints filed in 2019 and 2020 that Eonsmoke pushed the products to kids through social media channels including Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.
Eonsmoke’s ads targeting young consumers included popular culture references and featured social media influencers, celebrity endorsers, cartoons, and internet memes that intentionally minimized or omitted the fact that the vaping products contained nicotine.
Eonsmoke and its founders are also barred from selling, distributing, offering, marketing or advertising tobacco products to Massachusetts consumers.