Calif AG sues e-cigarette maker, says cigs unsafe

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s top cop is seeking to halt the sale of one company’s electronic cigarettes in the state, saying they contain dangerous chemicals and are being marketed to children.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown filed suit Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court against Florida-based Smoking Everywhere Inc., a leading manufacturer of e-cigarettes.

Brown says the company has no evidence to back up claims their product is safe.

Smoking Everywhere’s devices look like regular cigarettes but are battery-operated and contain cartridges of nicotine. A heater converts the chemical into a vapor.

Ray Story, vice president of Smoking Everywhere, said a Washington, D.C., federal judge’s finding Thursday that e-cigarettes were effectively the same as cigarettes made Brown’s lawsuit moot.

“Understand that this is a cigarette. We are acting as a cigarette company. We have all the applicable warnings on all our packaging that actually backs that up,” Story said.

He said his company did not represent the product as healthy or safe.

Story said the company made a point of cutting ties with any retailer discovered to be selling its e-cigarettes to minors. At the same time, he said, no specific law prior to the federal judge’s ruling barred selling the devices to minors.

Now that they were determined to be cigarettes, he said, he believed all laws barring the sale of cigarettes to minors applied.

A spokeswoman said Brown would continue to press the suit to force Smoking Everywhere to comply with California law. The attorney general contends the company is violating a state law requiring warnings on hazardous substances as well as regulations against false advertising and unfair business practices.

“Nothing in today’s ruling prevents Brown from continuing to protect California consumers from unsubstantiated and often misleading claims about the benefits of electronic cigarettes,” deputy press secretary Dana Simas said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found last year that e-cigarettes contain carcinogens.