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A man exhales smoke from a Juul brand electronic cigarette.
E-cigarette maker Juul has agreed to pay nearly $440 million to settle a two-year, 33-state investigation into the marketing of its high-nicotine vaping products, which have long been accused of abuse. sparking a nationwide surge in teen vaping.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced the deal Tuesday on behalf of the states and Puerto Rico, which came together in 2020 to investigate Juul's early promotions and claims about the benefits of its technology like alternative to smoking.
The agreement, which includes numerous restrictions on how Juul can market its products, addresses one of the biggest legal threats facing confronted the embattled company, which still faces nine separate lawsuits from other states.
Additionally, Juul faces hundreds of personal lawsuits filed on behalf of teenagers and others who claim to have become addicted to the company's vaping products.
The states investigation found that Juul marketed its e-cigarettes to underage teenagers with launch parties, product giveaways, advertisements and social media posts using young models, according to a statement. .
We believe this will go a long way to curbing the (phenomenon) of youth vaping, prosecutor Tong said at a news conference at his office in Hartford .
I'm under no illusions and I can't pretend that this will stop young people from vaping, he said. It continues to be an epidemic. This continues to be a huge problem. But we've essentially removed a lot of what was once a market leader and, through their conduct, a major offender.
The $438.5 million will be paid out on a period of six to ten years. Mr. Tong said Connecticut's payment of at least $16 million will go toward vaping prevention and education efforts.
Juul has already settled lawsuits in Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina and Washington State. deal is about 25% of Juul's US sales of $1.9 billion last year. Mr. Tong said it was a tentative agreement, which means the states will finalize settlement documents over the next few weeks.
Most of the limits imposed by Tuesday's deal won't immediately affect Juul, which halted use of launch parties, giveaways and other promotions after making the switch. subject to intense scrutiny several years ago. The company currently represents approximately one-third of the U.S. retail vaping market, up from 75% several years ago.
Teen use of e-cigarettes skyrocketed in the years after Juul's launch in 2015, leading the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to declare a youth vaping epidemic . Health experts argued that the unprecedented rise risked making a generation of young people addicted to nicotine.
But since 2019 Juul has mostly backed off, dropping all US advertising removing its fruit and candy flavors from store shelves.
The biggest blow came earlier this summer when the FDA banned all Juul e-cigarettes from the market. Juul challenged that decision in court, and the FDA has since reopened its scientific investigation into the company's technology.
Electronic cigarettes from Juul, as seen on a counter in a California store.
The FDA investigation is part of a larger effort by regulators aiming to oversee the multi-billion dollar vaping industry after years of delay. The agency has licensed a handful of e-cigarettes from Juul's competitors for adult smokers looking for a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.
While Juul's initial marketing focused on young, urban professionals, the company has since shifted its focus to launching its product as an alternative source of nicotine for older smokers.
We remain focused on our future as we fulfill our mission to keep adult smokers away from cigarettes – the number one cause of preventable death – while fighting underage use, the company said. in a press release.
Juul has agreed to refrain from a host of business practices as part of the deal. These include not using cartoons, paying social media influencers, depicting people under the age of 35, advertising on billboards and in transport or to place advertisements in all points of sale, unless 85% of their audience are adults.
The agreement also includes restrictions on where Juul products can be placed in stores, age verification for all sales, and limits on online and retail sales. /p>
This is one of the toughest mandates ever imposed on an industry, Mr. Tong said, which is extremely important because at the end of the this is about protecting our children and protecting us all from a very significant public health risk.
Juul first sold its high nicotine capsules in flavors like Mango, Mint, and Cream. The products have become a scourge in American colleges, with students vaping in bathrooms and hallways between classes.
However, data from a recent federal survey show that teenagers are turning away from the company. Many teens who vape now prefer disposable e-cigarettes, some of which continue to be sold in sweet and fruity flavors.
Overall, the The survey showed an almost 40% drop in teen vaping rates as many young people were forced to learn at home during the pandemic. Still, federal officials cautioned against interpreting the results given that they were first collected online, rather than in classrooms.