E-cigarette maker Juul Labs is set to settle a two-year investigation by 33 states into marketing high-nicotine e-cigarette products that have long been accused of causing a surge in teen e-cigarettes across the country. It will pay close to $440 million.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced the deal Tuesday on behalf of the state and Puerto Rico. We joined together to investigate the allegations.
The settlement resolves one of the biggest legal threats facing the beleaguered company, which still faces nine separate lawsuits from other states. Additionally, Juul faces hundreds of personal lawsuits brought on behalf of his teens and others who claim they have become addicted to the company’s e-cigarette products.
State investigation finds Juul sold e-cigarettes to underage teens, held launch parties, product giveaways, ads and social media posts featuring young models Did.
“Through this settlement, we will secure hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce nicotine use and force Juul to end youth marketing and accept a series of tough injunctions to crack down on sales to minors. We did,” Tong said in a press release.
The $438.5 million will be paid out over six to ten years. Tong said at least his $16 million payout in Connecticut will go toward e-cigarette prevention and education efforts. Juul has previously settled lawsuits in Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina and Washington.
Most of the restrictions imposed by Tuesday’s settlement won’t affect Juul’s practices, which stopped using parties, giveaways and other promotions after being scrutinized several years ago.
E-cigarette use among teens soared after the launch of Juul in 2015, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declaring teenage e-cigarettes a “trend.” Health experts said the unprecedented increase puts younger generations at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine.
Since 2019, however, Juul has largely gone away, dropping all US advertising and removing fruit and candy flavors from store shelves.
The biggest blow came earlier this summer when the FDA moved to ban all Juul e-cigarettes from the market. Juul challenged the ruling in court, after which the FDA reopened scientific review of the company’s technology.
The FDA review is part of a sweeping effort by regulators to bring scrutiny to the multi-billion dollar e-cigarette industry after years of regulatory delays. The agency has approved a small number of e-cigarettes for adult smokers looking for less harmful alternatives.
Juul’s early marketing focused on younger, urban consumers, but the company has since shifted to pitching its products as an alternative source of nicotine for older smokers.
“We remain focused on the future as we continue to fulfill our mission to keep adult smokers, the number one cause of preventable deaths, away from tobacco while combating underage use,” the company said in a statement. I will,” he said.
Juul has agreed to refrain from many marketing practices as part of the settlement. No cartoons, paying social media influencers, depicting people under 35, advertising on billboards or public transport, advertising in any outlet unless 85% of the audience is adults including posting, etc.
The agreement also includes restrictions on where Juul products can be placed in stores, age verification on all sales, and restrictions on online and retail sales.
Juul initially sold high-nicotine pods in flavors such as mango, mint and cream. The product has become a scourge in US high schools, with students smoking e-cigarettes in bathrooms and hallways between classes.
But recent federal survey data shows that teens are leaving the company. Most of his teens now prefer disposable e-cigarettes, some of which continue to be sold in sweet and fruity flavors.
Overall, the study showed that e-cigarette use among teens dropped by nearly 40% as many children were forced to study at home during the pandemic. Still, federal officials cautioned against interpreting the results given that they were collected online for the first time, rather than in a classroom.