Mayor Adams, Counsel Hinds-Radix Sue 11 Firms For Illegal E-Cigarette Distribution

April 4, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix today announced that the City of New York has filed a lawsuit against 11 wholesalers.

This is for their part in the illegal sale of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, the most popular vaping devices among middle school and high school youth. The 11 defendants — located in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and upstate New York — are alleged to have distributed, and continue to distribute, youth-friendly-flavored disposable e-cigarettes — 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, in violation of federal, New York state, and New York City law.

Today’s lawsuit seeks to block the defendants from further sales of these illegal items and seeks damages and penalties under state and city statutes. The lawsuit is a companion to the city’s pending 2023 federal lawsuit, in which two defendants in that case are already subject to court orders barring their sales and shipments of flavored e-cigarettes into the city.

“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,” said Mayor Adams. “This lawsuit will help hold 11 wholesalers accountable for their part in the illegal sale of flavored disposable e-cigarettes at a time when nicotine addiction among middle and high school youth is exploding. We will not stand by and allow this greedy, harmful, and openly illegal behavior to continue.”

“This lawsuit continues the city’s enforcement effort against companies that flout the law by selling flavored vapes to retailers and directly to consumers in the city,” said Corporation Counsel Hinds-Radix. “The City of New York will use every tool it can against businesses that are fueling the epidemic of e-cigarette use among young people and undermining public health.”

“Today’s action is one of many in a constellation to support and protect New Yorkers’ health, particularly young people,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “We know that young people are susceptible to marketing campaigns and products more akin to candy flavors. Thus, we are holding distributors accountable for selling illegal products and protecting our young people from these devices that often contain higher levels of nicotine than found in combustible cigarettes.”

“We will not standby when companies repeatedly put profits over the health of New Yorkers, especially our precious young people” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Holding manufacturers and wholesalers accountable helps decrease the chances of these harmful products getting into the hands of young people. With this lawsuit, New York City is fighting for the health of all New Yorkers, especially the next generation of leaders and do-ers in our great city.”

“Our city remains committed to upholding equity and integrity, protecting public safety, and building a cannabis industry that benefits all New Yorkers,” said Cannabis NYC Founding Director Dasheeda Dawson. “The correlation between stores selling illegal nicotine vapes and those illegally selling cannabis products is undeniable. Shutting down these operators is not only essential for public safety, but also crucial for safeguarding the historic progress we’ve made thus far. Greater local enforcement authority granted from the state along with funding and technical assistance to accelerate the opening of state-approved cannabis retailers are critical to ensuring entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds have the level playing field needed to enter the industry legally and thrive.”

The lawsuit, filed in New York County State Supreme Court, builds on commitments made in Mayor Adams’ State of the City address earlier this year, where he recommitted to working with Albany to grant local authorities the power to inspect and shut down illegal smoke shops, while supporting the equitable growth of the legal cannabis market and ensuring justice-impacted individuals are not undermined through an illegal market.

Many e-cigarettes provide nicotine levels far exceeding those of conventional cigarettes. Additionally, federal health authorities, such as the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), say youth-friendly flavors in e-cigarettes tempt kids to “vape” high levels of nicotine. Cartoon character packaging on e-cigarettes targeted at young people has also contributed to the epidemic of nicotine addiction among middle and high school youth. 

Between 2017 and 2019, e-cigarette use among young people nearly doubled. In October 2022, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released federal data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey finding that one in 10 middle and high school students across the country had used e-cigarettes in a 30-day sample period. Specifically, 14.1 percent (2.14 million) of high school students and 3.3 percent (380,000) of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use.

Consistent with the national trend, e-cigarette consumption in New York City schools has climbed in recent years. The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the CDC 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.

In January 2020, the FDA banned the marketing of flavored vape products unless companies could prove the benefits of the product outweighed its potential harms, a standard no flavored vape company has yet to meet. Additionally, New York City enacted a complete ban on the possession and sale of flavored e-cigarettes, whether at retail establishments or online in 2020. Further, flavored vapes are barred from retail sales in New York state, as well as in many other cities and states nationwide. The federal Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act also prohibits anything other than face-to-face sales of any e-cigarettes, unless the sales comply with all state and local laws of the jurisdiction in which the sale occurs. This is an impossibility in New York City where the New York City Administrative Code prohibits the sale of flavored disposable e-cigarettes entirely.

Despite these laws, the city’s investigations show that the 11 defendants sell and deliver flavored vapes to retail stores and consumers in New York City.

Today’s lawsuit seeks to prohibit these 11 defendants from further illegal sales that violate New York City’s Administrative Code and New York state’s Public Health Law. The city also seeks to recover monetary damages and civil penalties from the defendants.

  • EnvironMD Group LLC (2918 Avenue J, Brooklyn, and/or 1222 Avenue M, Suite 501, Brooklyn, NY) sold flavored Myle Meta Bar brand and Fume brand disposable e-cigarettes to a Brooklyn wholesaler.
  • GT Imports (23 West Mall, 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.
  • Kayla Wholesale, Inc., d/b/a The Vapery (366 N. Broadway, Suite Ph5, 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.
  • KLCC Wholesale Inc. (452 E 99th Street, Brooklyn, NY) has purchased, from out-of-state distributors, large quantities of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, including Hyde and Breeze brands, presumptively for sale to city wholesalers or retailers.
  • V. Trading, LLC (32-30 62nd Street, Brooklyn, NY) purchased thousands of 7200 Elf Bar, Lost Mary, and Voopoo Drag Bar e-flavored disposable e-cigarettes from out-of-state dealers, presumptively for sale to city wholesalers or retailers.
  • Pioneer Distribution, Inc. a/k/a a/k/a Seller Supreme LLC (1100 Coney Island Avenue, Suite 402, 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.
  • RZ Smoke Inc. (412 Hillside Avenue, New Hyde Park, NY) sold hundreds of flavored Air Bar flavored disposable e-cigarettes to a Brooklyn wholesaler.
  • Star Zone Inc. (3085B New Street, Oceanside, NY) delivered to retailers throughout the city approximately 14,000 flavored disposable e-cigarettes of various brands for which it was paid $650,000.
  • Urban Smoke Distributors (34-10 58th Street, Woodside, NY) purchased thousands of flavored Elf Bar, Lost Mary, and Funky Republic disposable e-cigarettes from in-state and out-of-state distributors, presumptively for sale to city wholesalers or retailers.
  • Vape More Inc. and More LLC (638 Columbia St Ext., Latham, NY) sold Strawberry Banana, Strawberry Kiwi, Hawaii Punch, Juicy Peach, Blue Razz, Lemon Ice, and Lemon Mint Elf Bar, as well as Lost Mary flavored disposable e-cigarettes to Urban Smoke Distributors in the city.
  • Vape Plus Distribution Corp. a/k/a G&A Distribution (2578 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) purchased thousands of flavored disposable e-cigarettes from various distributors outside the city, presumptively for sale to city retailers.

New York City is using every tool available to protect New Yorkers — particularly young people — from dangerous, illegal vaping, tobacco, and cannabis products, while sending a clear message that anyone helping these illegal, unlicensed shops spread throughout the five boroughs will be held accountable. Coordinating with both city and state authorities, the Adams administration formed the New York City Sheriff’s Office Joint Compliance Task Force to Address Illegal Smoke Shops. The task force is dedicated to conducting enforcement against unlicensed establishments selling cannabis, cannabis-infused edibles, illegal vaping products, illegal cigarettes, and other illegal tobacco 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. Additionally, the city has 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.

“Big tobacco is working overtime to create a new generation of smokers by peddling illegal flavored e-cigarettes to our youngest New Yorkers,” said New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair, New York State Assembly’s Committee on Housing. “However, with my legislation bolstering the city’s efforts to seize illegal vape products, coupled with the city’s efforts to sue e-cigarette wholesalers, we are sending a clear message to corporations that use our kids to pad their bottom lines: their health is not up for grabs. I applaud the city for holding these bad actors accountable for their dangerous and deceptive practices, and I will continue to push my legislation so it moves over the finish line this session.”

“Manufacturers and sellers of flavored disposable e-cigarettes are knowingly hooking a new generation on tobacco and creating a deadly cycle of addiction while breaking the law,” said New York State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. “I applaud Mayor Eric Adams and Corporation Counsel Hon. Hinds-Radix for taking action to combat this urgent threat to our public health. Every day that we do nothing, another child loses their parent to flavored tobacco products; and another child becomes addicted themselves. Tobacco usage among middle schoolers is on the rise, and data directly ties it to e-cigarettes, with ice cream and candy flavors targeting our youth. I’m committed to working with the Adams Administration to shut down the proliferation of illegal smoke shops and have introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly (A3907) to ban the sale of menthols and other flavored tobacco products state-wide, while imposing fines on anyone selling these deadly products.”

“Sale of flavored e-cigarettes is one of the many dangers illegal smoke shops pose, and I am partnering with Mayor Adams to end this scourge. In Albany, I introduced the SMOKEOUT Act to close the smoke shops immediately, and today we are launching a lawsuit to halt the distribution of the shop’s illegal vaping products,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “The smoke shops market flavored e-cigarettes to children, offering child-friendly flavors imitating sweets. The e-cigarettes contain nicotine, setting our children on a path to a lifetime of addiction. Many are flavored using diacetyl, which causes irreversible lung damage. Mayor Adams and I will not allow this to continue. Together, we will put an end to illegal smoke shops once and for all.” 

“Identifying and going after distributors of harmful products is a powerful tool to stop illegal sales,” said New York City Councilmember Gale A. Brewer. “The law is perfectly clear that it’s illegal to sell Frozen Creamsicle vapes in New York City. This enforcement is critically important, and I thank the Mayor and Corporation Counsel for taking action.” 

“I commend the administration for taking action against these companies that promote these disposable flavored e-cigarettes,” said New York City Councilmember Julie Menin, Chair, New York City Council’s Committee on Consumer & Worker Protection. “Too often, these are promoted to youths who are unaware of the risks of consuming these products. This sends a clear message that the city will not tolerate behavior that puts our youths at risk.”

Photo credit: HWM.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Harlem World Magazine, 2521 1/2 west 42nd street, Los Angeles, CA, 90008, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
We're your source for local coverage, we count on your support. SUPPORT US!
Your support is crucial in maintaining a healthy democracy and quality journalism. With your contribution, we can continue to provide engaging news and free access to all.
accepted credit cards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles