E-cigarette maker Juul Labs has agreed to pay nearly $440 million to settle a two-year investigation by 33 US states into the marketing of high-nicotine vaping products. their products, which have long been blamed for a nationwide surge in teen vaping.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced the agreement Tuesday on behalf of the states plus Puerto Rico, the states have joined together in 2020 to probe Juul’s initial promotions and statement about benefits of its technology as an alternative to smoking.
The deal, which includes multiple restrictions on how Juul can market its products, addresses one of the biggest legal threats facing the besieged company, which it still faces 9 separate lawsuits from other states.
In addition, Juul faces hundreds of individual lawsuits brought on behalf of teenagers and others who say they have become addicted to the company’s vaping products.
Juul marketing e-cigarettes to teenagers: investigation
According to a statement, the state investigation found that Juul marketed its e-cigarettes to teenagers with launch parties, product giveaways, advertisements and social media posts using young model.
“We think this will go a long way in stemming the tide of youth vaping,” Tong told a news conference at his office in Hartford.
“I have no illusions and cannot claim that it will stop youth vaping,” he said. “It continues to be an epidemic. It continues to be a big problem. But we’ve essentially eliminated a large part of what was once a market leader, and by their behavior, a great criminal.”
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$438.5 million will be paid out over a period of six to 10 years. Tong said Connecticut’s payment of at least $16 million would go toward vaping prevention and education efforts. Juul has previously settled lawsuits in Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Washington.
The total settlement amounted to about 25% of Juul’s $1.9 billion in sales last year. Song said it was an “agreement in principle,” meaning the states would finalize the settlement in the coming weeks.
Most of the limits imposed by Tuesday’s deal won’t immediately affect Juul, which halted its use of parties, giveaways and other promotions after coming under scrutiny a few years ago. .
Teen vaping ‘pandemic’
Teen use of e-cigarettes skyrocketed following the launch of Juul in 2015, prompting the US Food and Drug Administration to declare a “pandemic” of teen vaping in the past year. Teenager. Health experts say the unprecedented rise threatens to lure a generation of young adults into nicotine.
But as of 2019, Juul has largely retreated, dropping all US advertising and pulling fruit and candy flavors from store shelves.
The biggest hit came earlier this summer when the FDA banned all Juul e-cigarettes on the market. Juul challenged that ruling in court, and the FDA has since reopened a scientific review of the company’s technology.
The FDA review is part of a sweeping effort by regulators to scrutinize the multi-billion dollar vaping industry after years of delays. The agency has authorized a small number of e-cigarettes from Juul’s competitors for adult smokers looking for a less toxic alternative.
While Juul’s initial marketing was focused on young, urban consumers, the company has shifted to advertising its products as an alternative source of nicotine for older smokers.
“We remain focused on our future as we carry out our mission to move adult smokers away from tobacco – the number one preventable cause of death – and fight against adolescent drug use,” the company said in a statement.
Juul has agreed to decline a range of marketing activities as part of the settlement. These include not using cartoons, paying social media influencers, depicting people under the age of 35, advertising on billboards and public transport, and placing ads anywhere. any store unless 85% of their audience is adults.
The agreement also includes restrictions on where Juul products can be placed in stores, age verification for all sales, and limits for online and retail sales.
‘Ultimately, this is about protecting our kids’
“These are some of the most difficult tasks at any time for any industry,” said Tong, “which is extremely important because ultimately this is about protecting our children.” and protect us all from a very significant public health risk.”
Juul originally sold high-nicotine pods in flavors like mango, mint, and creme. These products have become a scourge in American high schools, with students steaming in bathrooms and hallways between classrooms.
However, recent federal survey data shows that teens are leaving the company. Most teenagers now prefer disposable e-cigarettes, some continue to be sold with sweet fruit flavors.
Overall, the survey found that youth vaping rates have dropped by nearly 40% as many children are forced to stay home during the pandemic. However, federal officials still cautioned against interpreting the results because they were first collected online, rather than in a classroom.