After a two-year probe into electronic cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs, the company has moved to settle for $438.5 million. The payout will go to 33 states and Puerto Rico over a period of six to 10 years, with at least $16 million allotted for vaping prevention and education.
The 2020 probe investigated Juul’s initial marketing strategy, which targeted teens using launch parties, social media giveaways, younger models, and influencers to promote false claims that the e-cig was a better smoking alternative. While the settlement restricts how Juul markets its products online and in stores and requires stricter age verification for sales, the company’s marketing initiatives won’t change much as they halted parties and other promotions years ago.
In 2018, the surgeon general declared e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic, and a few years later, the Food and Drug Administration began prohibiting the sale of fruity and mint-flavored e-cigarettes that appeal to children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes due to its use of nicotine salts allowing exceptionally high levels of nicotine.
Juul previously settled lawsuits in Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Washington and still faces nine separate lawsuits from other states and hundreds of personal cases from young consumers claiming they became addicted to Juul’s products. According to the Associated Press, today’s settlement total amounts to about a quarter of Juul’s 2021 U.S. sales of $1.9 billion.