Attorneys general in about two-thirds of the states reached a settlement with e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. that will require the company to pay $438.5 million to resolve the two-year-old case alleging the company marketed to underage kids.
The settlement also requires Juul to comply with limited sales and marketing practices, according to Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who led the group of plaintiffs. Tong said the money from the settlement will go toward programs that are trying to get people to stop using tobacco and nicotine or prevent them from starting in the first place.
As part of the settlement, Juul has agreed to stop marketing to youth and to stop depicting people under age 35 in any marketing. It also will refrain from naming rights and sponsorships, from paid influencers and from offering free samples.
Tong and the other AGs charged the company was “relentlessly” marketing the product to underage youth, despite the firm’s claims that it was providing an alternative for adult smokers.
“JUUL’s cynically calculated advertising campaigns created a new generation of nicotine addicts. They relentlessly marketed vaping products to underage youth, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced users, employed an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers about the nicotine content and addictiveness of its products,” Tong, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, also praised the agreement, saying that “underage vaping has reached epidemic proportions, and our office is committed to protecting Georgia’s youth from products that could be harmful to their health. That includes holding accountable those that unlawfully try to sell dangerous and addictive e-cigarettes to minors in our state.”
The company did not admit wrongdoing but said in a statement that the settlement is a “significant part of our ongoing commitment to resolve issues from the past.”
“We believe that once the FDA does a complete review of all of the science and evidence presented, as required by law, and without political interference, we should receive marketing authorization,” Juul said in its statement.
The states and territories signing onto the agreement are: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.