(NEW YORK) — Several attorneys general announced a new $462 million settlement from e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Labs on Wednesday.
The settlement is the largest multistate settlement which includes the most “stringent restrictions on the company’s marketing and sales to protect and to prevent minors from vaping,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said during a press conference.
James added “JUUL’s lies lead to a nationwide public health crisis and put addictive products in the hands of minors who thought they were doing something harmless,” James said at the press conference alongside attorneys general for Washington, D.C., California, Illinois and Massachusetts. Two other states, Colorado and New Mexico, are also recipients of the funds from the settlement.
“There is no doubt that JUUL played a central role in the youth vaping epidemic. Today, Juul is paying for the widespread harm it caused and will undergo severe restrictions on its marketing and sales practice,” James continued.
JUUL’s decision to target underaged students was widespread, the attorneys general said on Wednesday. In New York, James alleged that the e-cigarette company targeted middle and high school students in New York using “colorful ads featuring young models and flashing parties in New York City and the Hamptons, all while downplaying the harmful effects of vaping.”
D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb claimed JUUL’s “online verification systems were riddled with flaws and loopholes that allow kids of any age to purchase the products it knew but did not care,” and Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Cambell said JUUL’s “targeting of young people rolled back decades of progress in combating underage tobacco and nicotine use and has led to a nationwide public health crisis for young people all across this country.”
Juul said the settlement marks nearly “total resolution of the company’s historical legal challenges.”
“With this settlement, we are nearing total resolution of the company’s historical legal challenges and securing certainty for our future. We have now settled with 47 states and territories, providing over $1 billion to participating states, in addition to our global resolution of the U.S. private litigation. Since our company-wide reset in the fall of 2019, underage use of JUUL products has declined by 95% based on the National Youth Tobacco Survey,” a spokesperson for JUUL told ABC News.
“Now we are positioned to dedicate even greater focus on our path forward to maximize the value and impact of our product technology and scientific foundation,” the spokesperson continued, noting its priorities are “to secure authorization of our PMTAs based on the science and lead the category with innovation to accelerate our mission and advance tobacco harm reduction for over 31 million adult smokers in the U.S. and over 1 billion adult smokers worldwide.”
In D.C., JUUL’s $15.2 million settlement is the largest litigated settlement negotiated under the Consumer Protection Procedures Act, according to Schwalb. At least half of the settlement from Juul, which “marketed nicotine products to District youth and misled District consumers about the product’s highly-addictive qualities,” will be aimed at mitigating public health damages that JUUL caused, the attorney general says. Under the agreement, “JUUL must abide by strict advertising restrictions that prevent it from engaging in harmful marketing practices in the future.”
Many of the funds acquired in the settlement will be aimed at education to lessen the effect of JUUL’s vaping in the next generation. James told ABC News that her state’s $112 million will be used to “help government agencies and educational organizations to prevent young vaping to support community and school based anti vaping programs to help individuals quit vaping to help localities and counties enforce vaping laws and regulations and monitor and research efforts to read to reduce vaping.”
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