Juul Labs Inc. has agreed to pay $462 million to settle claims made by six states and the District of Columbia that it illegally marketed its addictive e-cigarettes to minors. The settlement requires Juul to secure its products behind retail store counters and verify the age of consumers that directly sell or promote its products online. The states accused Juul of glamorizing vaping and targeting youths with colorful ads featuring young models using flavors of nicotine products that would appeal to kids. Juul was also accused of deceptively advertising its products as safer than cigarettes. Juul has settled with 47 U.S. states and territories, paying out more than $1 billion. The company did not admit wrongdoing.
Juul said in a statement that the terms of the agreement provide financial resources to further combat underage use and develop cessation programs and reflect the company's current business practices, which were implemented as part of its company-wide reset in the fall of 2019. Since then, underage use of Juul products has declined by 95% based on the National Youth Tobacco Survey. In addition to the payments, the settlement requires Juul to place new restrictions on its sales and marketing, such as limiting the amount of retail and online purchases customers can make and no longer offering free samples of Juul pods to customers.
The settlement will be used to support programs to educate youth about the harms of vaping, as well as fund state enforcement of anti-vaping laws. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the addictive substance present in regular cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products, and nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also has said using nicotine in adolescence may raise the risk for future addiction to other drugs. The head of the FDA's center for tobacco products said last year that adolescent e-cigarette use in the United States remained at "concerning levels" and posed a serious public health risk.