Juul settles massive national investigation into youth vaping for $438.5 million

A young man wears a shirt that reads DITCHJUUL as James Monsees, co-founder and chief product officer at JUUL Labs Inc., testifies before the House Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee, which is examining the role of JUUL in the Youth Nicotine Epidemic on July 25, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Enlarge / A younger man wears a shirt that reads DITCHJUUL as James Monsees, co-founder and chief product officer at JUUL Labs Inc., testifies earlier than the Home Financial and Shopper Coverage Subcommittee, which is inspecting the position of JUUL within the Youth Nicotine Epidemic on July 25, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Disgraced e-cigarette maker Juul has agreed to pay $438.5 million to 33 states and Puerto Rico to settle an investigation into whether or not the vaping big marketed its merchandise in a misleading method and deliberately focused youngsters and adolescents, who’re most weak to nicotine dependancy.

The mammoth settlement comes as the corporate continues its battle for survival with the US Meals and Drug Administration. In June, the FDA took the dramatic step of denying advertising and marketing authorization for all Juul merchandise, forcing the e-cigarette maker out of the US market. Nonetheless, Juul rapidly received administrative holds, and the FDA introduced in July that it could evaluation Juul’s merchandise. Within the meantime, the corporate is allowed to proceed promoting its merchandise, however its final destiny stays precarious.

The authorized settlement and regulatory uncertainty are the newest fallout from Juul’s alleged position in fueling a nationwide youth vaping “epidemic” that peaked in 2019. Juul has turn out to be recognized for attracting youngsters and youngsters whereas vaping amongst center and highschool college students skyrocketed.

Based on a lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts lawyer basic in 2020, Juul launched advertising and marketing campaigns in 2015 and 2016 that relied on teenage social media influencers and “cool” fashions. The corporate even bought banners and video advertisements from websites similar to Cartoon Community and Nickelodeon’s Nick.com and NickJr.com, in keeping with the lawsuit.

In Could 2019, a research revealed in JAMA Pediatrics estimated that in 2018, 45% of Juul’s Twitter followers had been individuals between the ages of 13 and 17. Throughout a congressional listening to in July 2019, a New York highschool scholar and his mom testified. that in 2017, a Juul worker gave a dwell presentation on the teen’s college with out academics current, the college administrator’s information, or parental consent. Throughout the presentation, the Juul rep reportedly stated Juul’s e-cigarettes had been “utterly secure” and referred to as Juul’s system “the iPhone of vapes.”

As Ars beforehand reported, Juul’s greenback gross sales elevated 783% between 2017 and 2018, reaching $942.6 million, in keeping with a Wells Fargo evaluation of Nielsen information on the time. In the meantime, the share of center college college students reporting current e-cigarette use rose from 0.6% in 2011 to 10.5% in 2019, in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. And through this era, e-cigarette use amongst highschool college students elevated from 1.5% to 27.5%. These numbers have since declined.


Amid rising concern over teen vaping, the backlash in opposition to Juul was swift. By the tip of 2019, Juul had ousted its CEO, halted US advertisements, and stopped promoting a few of its youth-friendly flavors, together with Mango, Fruit, Cream (crème brûlée), and Cucumber. However the lawsuits multiplied, the regulatory issues multiplied, and its market share started to fall. Final 12 months, Juul agreed to pay the state of North Carolina $40 million for claiming it was concentrating on younger individuals. In June this 12 months, tobacco big Altria, previously referred to as the Philip Morris Corporations, stated its 35% stake in Juul, which it purchased in 2018 for $12.8 billion, wouldn’t was now solely valued at $450 million. Even with this week’s vital settlement, Juul nonetheless faces a substantial variety of authorized challenges.

In an announcement Tuesday, Juul wrote:

This settlement with 34 states and territories is a vital a part of our continued dedication to fixing the issues of the previous. The phrases of the settlement are aligned with our present enterprise practices that we started implementing after our company-wide reset within the fall of 2019. With at the moment’s announcement, we’re We’re settled with 37 states and Puerto Rico, and admire the efforts of attorneys basic to deploy sources to deal with underage consuming.

Along with the cost, which might be break up between states and utilized in numerous methods to fight youth dependancy, the settlement additionally prohibits Juul from a number of actions, similar to advertising and marketing merchandise to younger individuals, depicting individuals underneath the age of 35 years in all advertising and marketing, utilizing cartoons, utilizing paid influencers on social media, or promoting at retailers with an viewers lower than 85% adults.

In an announcement asserting the settlement, Connecticut Legal professional Common William Tong celebrated the settlement whereas blasting Juul.

“Juul’s cynically calculated promoting campaigns created a brand new era of nicotine addicts. They relentlessly marketed vaping merchandise to younger minors, manipulated their chemical make-up to make them palatable to inexperienced customers , used an insufficient age verification course of and misled customers concerning the nicotine content material and addictiveness of its merchandise. The complete public well being ramifications of this misconduct are nonetheless unknown,” Tong stated. “By way of this settlement, we secured a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of {dollars} to assist cut back nicotine use and compelled JUUL to comply with a sequence of robust injunctive phrases to finish youth advertising and marketing and crack down on gross sales to minors. .”

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