Juul Forced To Pay Millions After Being Accused Of Targeting Minors
E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to settle a lawsuit after North Carolina accused it of targeting minors with its products.
The settlement comes after North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein filed the lawsuit in 2019, claiming Juul marketed its e-cigarettes to children and misled the public about the potential risks that come with vaping.
Stein said he began investigating the company after hearing from friends that it caused ‘devastation’ in children’s lives, leading to ‘addiction, depression, bad grades, switching schools, medical treatment and more’.
Attorneys for the state announced the settlement today, June 28, stating that Juul Labs agreed to make changes to its business practices as well as paying $40 million. It marks the first settlement reached by the company with a state government.
Juul’s sales and advertising will be restricted in North Carolina as a result of the order, which also requires the company to provide funds to help those addicted to e-cigarettes, CNN reports.
Discussing the settlement in a news conference after a court hearing, Stein explained the consent order means Juul ‘cannot sell mint. It cannot sell mango, it cannot sell crème brulee, or any other flavour’ without authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Juul must abandon all marketing strategies and content that appeals to young people. Juul will be prohibited from influencer advertising, outdoor advertising near schools, sponsoring sporting events and concerts, and most importantly, most social media advertising.
Juul cannot use anyone under the age of 35 years in their advertising. Juul cannot make any claims that its e-cigarettes are safer or better for your health than combustible cigarettes.
As well as placing limits on flavours and advertising, Juul will be required to verify the age of customers at places where its products are sold through a barcode age-verification system of IDs. This system is set to be tested through a retailer compliance program using mystery shoppers at 1,000 stores per year.
Juul has also been ordered to prevent customers from purchasing more than two devices per month, 10 devices per year and 60 pods per month.
Stein explained that the money used for the settlement will go towards programs to help children who are addicted to e-cigarettes quit the habit, as well as preventing other young people from becoming addicted.
These dollars will make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of North Carolina teens struggling with e-cigarette addiction.
This win will go a long way in keeping Juul products out of kids’ hands, keeping its chemical vapour out of their lungs, and keeping its nicotine from poisoning and addicting their brains.
I’m incredibly proud of my team for their hard work on behalf of North Carolina families. We’re not done – we still have to turn the tide on a teen vaping epidemic that was borne of Juul’s greed.
Juul has said the order is ‘consistent’ with its own efforts to prevent underage people from using its products, explaining in a statement that the company is looking forward to working with Stein and ‘other manufacturers on the development of potential industry-wide marketing practices based on science and evidence’.
The company continued: ‘In addition, we support the Attorney General’s desire to deploy funds to generate appropriate science to support North Carolina’s public health interventions to reduce underage use.’
After settling the suit with North Carolina, Juul still faces more than 2,000 lawsuits over the marketing of its e-cigarettes.
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