Juul will pay $439 million in settlement for marketing to teens


E-cigarette company Juul, which at the height of its success dominated the market with its sweet flavors, has agreed to pay $438.5 million in a settlement with 33 states and one territory for marketing its product to teenagers.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D), who led the plaintiffs’ effort, said in a statement Tuesday that the settlement will send millions of dollars to programs aimed at reducing tobacco use.

“Juul’s cynically calculated advertising campaigns have created a new generation of nicotine addicts,” Tong said. “They relentlessly marketed vaping products to young minors, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced users, used an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers into mistake about the nicotine content and addiction of its products.”

The full extent of damage caused by the company has yet to be determined, Tong said.

Juul usage among teens and young adults increased from 2018 to 2019, with usage among 18 to 20 year olds doubling, Reuters reported. Juul and other vape companies have contributed to an e-cigarette epidemic among young people, the general surgeon at the time said in 2018.

Tuesday’s settlement does not eliminate the problem of youth e-cigarette use, but it is an important step in holding Juul accountable for its actions, Matthew L. Myerspresident of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in an interview.

“State attorneys general did what they could do,” he said. “Attorneys general’s efforts will only succeed if the FDA takes action to remove the products that cause the problem from the market,” Myers said.

Juul said in a statement Tuesday that the settlement is part of his commitment to resolve his past issues.

“The terms of the agreement are aligned with our current business practices that we began implementing after our company-wide reset in the fall of 2019,” Juul said. “With today’s announcement, we have settled with 37 states and Puerto Rico, and appreciate the efforts of attorneys general to deploy resources to combat the use of minors.”

Before Tuesday announcement of the settlement, the company had settled with four states, a spokesperson noted.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) said in a statement that when he launched his state’s investigation into Juul two years ago, he wanted the company to be held accountable for wrongdoing past and change its practices to comply with the law. .

“This settlement helps accomplish both of those priorities,” Paxton said. “My commitment to protecting consumers from deceptive marketing practices is unwavering, and any company that misleads Texans, especially our young people, will be held accountable for their actions.”

The settlement requires Juul to refrain from marketing to young people in a number of ways, including advertising on public transit or billboards, paying influencers, or portraying anyone under the age of 18. 35 years in commercials.

Connecticut and Texas, which conducted the survey, will receive $16.2 million and $42.8 million, respectively.

The settlement leaves many questions unanswered, said Carl TobiasProfessor of Law at the University of Richmond Law School.

“Is this the right amount of money?” Is it enough to bring help to people who have been injured? he said, adding that it’s unclear if the settlement will be enough to deter bad behavior.

Tobias said Juul isn’t the same company it was years ago, thanks to increased scrutiny from the vaping industry as more is known about the effects of vaping on the body.

” I do not think so [Juul] is also troubling now,” he said, referring to the company’s marketing which appeared to target young people. “But the company made a lot of money with these products. … More could have been done to prevent injuries that didn’t need to happen.

Juul said in its statement Tuesday that it remains focused on its work to keep adult smokers away from cigarettes while combating underage use.

Addictive and flavored products remain a risk for young people, Myers said, citing a national youth smoking survey that found that nearly 85 percent of current young e-cigarette users use flavored options.

As significant as Tuesday’s decision is, Myers said, it still leaves room for other companies to enter Juul’s marketplace to market and share their own flavored products.

“Juul is already doing a lot of things that they agreed not to do,” he said. “In many ways, [the settlement] only prevents marketing that Juul has already stopped doing.

In 2019, Juul, facing lawsuits and investigations, announced a “reset” intended to regain the trust of the public and regulators, and it took several steps to prevent teenagers from buying its products. The company has stopped television, print and digital advertising. After removing its sweet and fruity flavors from the market, sales have plummeted, although the company still holds a large share of the market.

The most recent survey of youth smoking by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that youth vaping has declined since its peak in 2019. About 11.3% of high school students and 2.8% of middle school students in the 2021 survey said they had used an electronic cigarette at least once in the past 30 days, compared to 27.5% of high school students and 10.5% college students. in 2019. Still, the FDA said e-cigarette use remains a concern, with more than 2 million middle and high school students reporting vaping in the past 30 days.

The agency warned that changes to the 2021 methodology, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, made it difficult to compare results with previous years.

The Youth Smoking Survey also showed that Puff bar, a disposable e-cigarette sold in a range of flavored offerings, has become the most popular vaping brand among middle and high school students. Juul was fourth.

In June, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products declined Juul’s candidacy to continue to market its e-cigarette device and pre-filled cartridges with menthol and tobacco flavors. The FDA said Juul had provided inadequate or conflicting information about the safety of its products and ordered the company to remove them from the market.

Juul said the FDA mishandled the request and missed or overlooked thousands of pages of data included in the submission. The company got an emergency stay from a federal appeals court dilatory FDA ban.

On July 5, the FDA tweeted that he had suspended the ban pending an internal review, outraged anti-vaping advocates and some lawmakers.

The company said in its statement Tuesday that it is expected to receive marketing clearance from the FDA once the agency completes a full review of the science and evidence “without political interference.”

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