Chicago Files Suit Against Vapes.com for Illegal Sales

The City of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against Equte LLC, parent to Vapes.com, for “marketing and selling flavored vaping products.” The company allegedly marketed its products to youth, alongside selling flavored products. Four months ago, the Chicago City Council banned the sale of flavored vaping products favored by teens, but exempting flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

Chicago skyline
Credit Emily Ralph

The latest in a string of city lawsuits against the e-cigarette industry follows an investigation by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. It identified the two companies as having violated the flavored tobacco ban, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

“E-cigarettes are unhealthy and addictive, and businesses deliberately target young people in the hope they’ll develop lifelong customers,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot was quoted as saying in a news release. “The City of Chicago’s message to vaping companies is clear: If you break the law, we will go after you, especially if you try to sell to our youth.”

O’Shea originally championed a much stronger, citywide ban on all flavored tobacco products. He was forced to settle for less — a ban on “flavored liquid nicotine products” — after running into a buzz-saw of opposition from gas stations, convenience and tobacco stores. They accused O’Shea of kicking them when they’re down, with their businesses hurting during the pandemic.

O’Shea could not be reached for comment. The press release quoted him as saying that this lawsuit “not only takes these companies to task, but sends a clear message to anyone who thinks they can push vaping products onto our kids and get away with it.”