Juul Labs, the notorious e-cigarette maker, has agreed to pay a whopping $438.5 million to settle an investigation by 33 states over its marketing tactics. The settlement comes after a two-year probe into the company’s promotion of high-nicotine vaping products, which have been heavily criticized for causing a spike in teen vaping.
Juul has been under fire for years due to its aggressive marketing campaigns, which were aimed at teens with giveaways, launch parties, and social media ads featuring youthful models. But now, the company has agreed to strict injunctions that will see an end to youth marketing and an increased crackdown on underage sales.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who announced the deal on behalf of the states, said, “Through this settlement, we have secured hundreds of millions of dollars to help reduce nicotine use and forced Juul to accept a series of strict injunctive terms.”
The settlement will be paid out over six to ten years, with Connecticut’s payment of at least $16 million going towards vaping prevention and education efforts. Juul has also settled lawsuits in Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Washington.
This settlement marks one of the biggest legal threats Juul has faced, as it still faces nine separate lawsuits from other states. Additionally, the company is grappling with hundreds of personal suits brought on behalf of teenagers and others who say they became addicted to the company’s vaping products.
While the settlement is a win for the states, most of the limitations imposed by the deal won’t affect Juul’s practices, which have already halted use of parties, giveaways, and other promotions after coming under scrutiny several years ago. Juul has since shifted its focus to pitching its product as an alternative nicotine source for older smokers.
It’s worth noting that teen use of e-cigarettes skyrocketed after Juul’s launch in 2015, leading the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to declare an “epidemic” of underage vaping among teenagers. But since 2019, Juul has mostly been in retreat, dropping all U.S. advertising and pulling its fruit and candy flavors from store shelves.
The settlement marks a significant milestone in the vaping industry’s efforts to crack down on e-cigarette use among teens. While there is still much work to be done to protect young people from the dangers of nicotine addiction, this settlement is a step in the right direction.