A now defunct e-cigarette retailer and its two owners have agreed to pay nearly $51 million to settle allegations that they illegally marketed products to minors in Massachusetts, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday.
The settlement filed in Suffolk Superior Court against Eonsmoke LLC, Gregory Grishayev and Michael Tolmach “resolves allegations that the defendants directly targeted young people for sales of its vaping products through marketing and advertising intended to appeal to youth,” the attorney general’s office said.
The company — based in New Jersey and dissolved last year — failed to verify the age of online purchasers of electronic nicotine devices, e-liquids, and nicotine pods, and failed to ensure that shipments of their products were received by a person legally allowed to do so, the office alleged.
The state’s minimum legal age to buy smoking products is 21.
The company 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 an attorney listed in online court records as representing Eonsmoke and the two men.
Under terms of the settlement, the company will pay $50 million while Grishayev and Tolmach will pay a total of $750,000.
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Also, if Grishayev and Tolmach in the future want to resume selling tobacco products in Massachusetts, they are required to get authorization from the federal Food and Drug Administration and give notice to the state.
The settlement requires a judge’s approval.
“Eonsmoke coordinated a campaign that intentionally targeted young people and sold dangerous and addictive vaping products directly to minors through their website,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “We were the first to take action against this company and its owners, and today we are holding them accountable and permanently stopping them from conducting these illegal practices in our state.”
In the original lawsuit filed in May 2019, the state alleged Eonsmoke targeted teens by selling products with high nicotine concentrations in “dessert flavors” such as sour gummy, donut cream, and pink lemonade.
The company also referenced youth popular culture in its advertising and advertised on social media platforms commonly used by youth, the attorney general alleged.
The lawsuit against Eonsmoke was the first of eight filed by the attorney general against online e-cigarette retailers since Healey opened an investigation into the industry in 2018.
Cease-and-desist letters have also been sent to a number of other e-cigarette companies to stop them from selling their products to Massachusetts residents.
A first-in-the nation Massachusetts law that banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids, went into effect on June 1, 2020.