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Juul Agrees to Pay $438.5 Million in Underage Vaping Settlement

Accused of targeting young people with its products, the e-cigarette maker settles a multi-million dollar lawsuit that includes 33 states and Puerto Rico.
Juul Agrees to Pay $438.5 Million in Underage Vaping Settlement

Juul Labs Inc. agreed to pay at least $438.5 million in a settlement with more than 30 states, the latest step by the beleaguered e-cigarette maker to resolve allegations that it marketed its products to underage users, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Juul to Pay $438.5 Million to Settle Probe Over Underage Vaping (Wall Street Journal)

Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: Under the deal, which includes 33 states and Puerto Rico, Juul is barred from depicting people under 35 in its marketing, product placements in film and television, advertising on billboards and social media, selling Juul-branded merchandise and funding education programs in schools, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a news conference Tuesday. Juul denied wrongdoing and said it voluntarily had stopped the marketing and sales practices that the agreement bars it from using. The agreement follows an investigation begun in 2020 by 39 states. Since last year, Juul has agreed to pay a total of $87 million in settlements with four other states that brought lawsuits against the company, including Louisiana, Arizona, North Carolina and Washington state. Thousands of other lawsuits against Juul are pending, including cases brought by nine other attorneys general.
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According to the New York Times, "We think that this will go a long way in stemming the flow of youth vaping," William Tong, Connecticut’s attorney general, said at a news conference on Tuesday. "We are under no illusions and cannot claim that it will stop youth vaping. It continues to be an epidemic. It continues to be a huge problem. But we have essentially taken a big chunk out of what was once a market leader."

Juul Settles Multistate Youth Vaping Inquiry for $438.5 Million (New York Times)

Excerpt from the New York Times: The multistate investigation found that the company appealed to young people by hiring young models, using social media to court teenagers and giving out free samples, he said. And, he added, the inquiry revealed that the company had a "porous" age verification system for its products and that 45 percent of its Twitter followers were ages 13 to 17. Jason Miyares, the attorney general for Virginia, pointed out in a statement that the company’s former strategy of selling flavors like mango and crème brûlée appealed to youth as did the sleek design of its device that was easy to conceal. Juul said on Tuesday that the settlement agreement was "aligned with our current business practices which we started to implement after our companywide reset in the fall of 2019."
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In an interesting piece from the Boston Globe Magazine, Seth Mnookin writes that if you were trying to create a villain that embodied the worst fears of youth-focused, anti-smoking activists, it would be hard to top Juul, the e-cigarette company that launched in 2015.

Vape wars: The fierce debate over the banning (and unbanning) of Juul e-cigarettes (Boston Globe Magazine)

Excerpt from Boston Globe Magazine: Juul’s early growth was fueled by ad campaigns on child-oriented TV channels, including Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, and on websites aimed at middle school students. It infiltrated summer camps and schools in what a US House of Representatives subcommittee called a "sophisticated program" to target teens and children. Its flavored products delivered higher doses of nicotine in smaller, easier-to-conceal packages than other vaping products. And it’s owned in part by Altria, the successor to Philip Morris, which for half a century schemed to deceive the public about the true dangers of smoking. Combine all of that with Juul’s name-brand recognition — at one point it controlled more than 70 percent of the American vaping market — and it’s easy to see why the company was a prime target for politicians, pediatricians, and concerned parents. In June, the Food and Drug Administration announced it was banning the sale of all Juul products, saying the company "played a disproportionate role in the rise in youth vaping." Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes hailed the decision as "an enormous step forward in our fight to protect our kids."
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