Juul Labs has reached a $40 million settlement with North Carolina over its role in promoting vaping to youths. This marks the first time a state has settled with the embattled brand.
The settlement, which was announced Monday by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, claims that Juul aggressively marketed its e-cigarettes to youths with “sleek devices and sweet flavors,” fueling a wave of teen vaping addiction that reversed a “historic decline” in teen nicotine use, Raleigh News & Observer reported.
Stein sued Juul in 2019 for “designing, marketing, and selling its e-cigarettes to attract young people and for misrepresenting the potency and danger of nicotine in its products,” according to the announcement.
The settlement also prohibits Juul from using marketing that appeals to people under the age of 21, including advertising on social media, advertising outdoors near schools and sponsoring sporting events and concerts.
Juul did not admit it intentionally targeted youths in its advertising campaigns.
Juul faces thousands of lawsuits against municipalities, counties, tribal nations, and school districts across the country. Formerly in control of three-quarters of the vaping market share as recently as 2018, Juul’s share was just 42 percent as of last year, according to the New York Times.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to decide by Sept. 9 whether Juul’s e-cigarette products have enough public health benefit to stay on the market. Juul introduced its e-cigarettes in 2015, claiming that its products provide a healthier alternative than combustible cigarettes and help addicted cigarette smokers cut down or eventually quit.
On Jan. 2nd, 2020, with the exception of tobacco and menthol, the FDA announced a ban on flavored vaping cartridges and pods that are used in Juul e-cigarette devices. Many of these flavors were sweet or fruity, aiming to appeal to a younger demographic.
Juul may no longer claim that its e-cigarettes (vape pens and cartridges) are healthier than traditional cigarettes as part of the settlement, which will fund programs designed to combat e-cigarette addiction.
"This win will go a long way in keeping Juul products out of kids' hands, keeping its chemical vapor out of their lungs, and keeping its nicotine from poisoning and addicting their brains," Stein stated.