TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — E-cigarette brand JUUL Labs has reportedly agreed to pay nearly $440 million to settle a legal battle with 34 states and territories. According to announcements by multiple attorneys general, the manufacturer will not only pay a settlement, but make changes to their sales and marketing practices to comply with the agreement.
Agreeing to the terms of the settlement, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced the e-cigarette company would be “severely limiting their marketing and sales practices,” to meet restrictions set by injunctive terms of the settlement. Each of the 33 states and U.S. territory of Puerto Rico will receive portions of the settlement funds from the agreement.
“Connecticut led 34 states and territories in reaching this landmark $438.5 million agreement with JUUL that will end youth marketing and send millions of dollars to programs nationwide to drive down tobacco use. JUUL’s cynically calculated advertising campaigns created a new generation of nicotine addicts,” said Tong in a statement. “They relentlessly marketed vaping products to underage youth, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced users, employed an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers about the nicotine content and addictiveness of its products.”
Texas Attorney General, one of the three attorneys general who had initiated the investigation alongside Tong and Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon, said the investigation showed that JUUL “became a dominant player in the vaping industry by willfully engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to youth, even though its e-cigarettes are both illegal for them to purchase and unhealthy for youth to use.”
The various attorneys involved in the suit on behalf of their home states echoed similar sentiment that the full health ramifications of the vaping company’s practices were not yet known.
Discussing the lawsuit, New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella said it had been “revealed that JUUL’s original packaging was misleading in that it did not clearly disclose that it contained nicotine and implied that it contained a lower concentration of nicotine than it actually did.”
Going forward, JUUL will no longer market to youth, fund education programs, show anyone under the age of 35 in marketing materials, use cartoons, partake in paid product placements, sell brand-name merchandise, sell flavors that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or allow access to their websites without an age verification prompt on landing pages, among others restrictions.
According to a release from Formella’s office detailing the injunctive restrictions, JUUL will be subject to retail and online sales limits, age verification on all sales, and limitations on where products can be displayed in stores.
Reporting by the Associated Press also said that the terms of the settlement included JUUL agreeing to pay the $438.5 million settlement over six to 10 years. A statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that, should the company choose to extend payment time to the states receiving funds, the final amount to be paid would reach a total of $476.6 million, to be split among the states and territory.
At the same time, other lawsuits are either underway or could begin. In Florida, Attorney General Ashley Moody had previously joined a 2020 lawsuit alongside 38 attorneys general to investigate JUUL. Florida was not among the 34 states and territories in the Tuesday settlement with the e-cigarette company.
In Polk County, the school board will vote whether or not to sue JUUL. The meeting where the move will be discussed is scheduled for 5 p.m., following a 12:30 p.m. workshop session. Should the board vote to move forward, it will join a national class action effort.
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming were all participant plaintiffs in the lawsuit.