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Juul to pay $40M to settle North Carolina teen vaping lawsuit

Juul to pay $40M to settle North Carolina teen vaping lawsuit


Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

North Carolina won $40 million in a settlement with Juul Labs, an e-cigarette brand that has been under fire for its marketing to teens and young adults. 

In addition to paying North Carolina, Juul must make “drastic changes to the way it conducts business,” according to a statement by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein’s office. In the settlement, Juul denied wrongdoing and liability.

Although North Carolina is the first state to settle with Juul, 13 states have filed lawsuits against the company, The New York Times reported. The states’ claims are, mainly, that Juul targets young people with its advertisements and misrepresents the danger of its product.

While Juul says it doesn’t market its products to youth, the device has become increasingly popular with young people, in part because it doesn’t emit smoke, comes in a variety of flavors and may have certain “aesthetic appeal.” Juul previously faced a lawsuit for allegedly targeting kids with ads on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

Juul and other vape pen devices were initially marketed to former smokers to help them cut out cigarettes and tobacco products. But Juul use isn’t concentrated in the former-smoker adult population. According to a 2020 Truth Initiative study published in JAMA Pediatrics, the percentage of young people (ages 15 to 34) who have used a Juul more than doubled between 2018 and 2019. North Carolina’s suit also cites Truth Initiative research that shows 15- to 17-year-olds are 16 times more likely to be a Juul user than people aged 25 to 34. 

There have also been many health concerns linked to ingredients found in Juul and other e-cigarette brands that contain high amounts of nicotine, including lung issues, seizures, dental damage, psychological complications and more.

As part of the settlement, Juul will no longer be able advertise near schools or through social media, influencers or sponsored events and concerts, and the company can’t make claims comparing Juul’s health effects to cigarettes. Juul must also age-verify during all online sales, including through third-party sales partners, as well as make sure products are sold behind store counters.

The company must also maintain a “secret shopper” program and can’t introduce new flavors or nicotine content levels without authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. 

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As part of Juul’s settlement with North Carolina, Juul products must be sold behind the counter, advertisements shouldn’t appear near schools and the company must send teenage “mystery shoppers” to stores.


Photo By Liz Hafalia via Getty

“This win will go a long way in keeping Juul products out of kids’ hands, keeping its chemical vapor out of their lungs, and keeping its nicotine from poisoning and addicting their brains,” Stein said in the statement.

“This settlement is consistent with our ongoing effort to reset our company and its relationship with our stakeholders, as we continue to combat underage usage and advance the opportunity for harm reduction for adult smokers,” a spokesperson from Juul said in an emailed statement to CNET.

Juul will pay North Carolina the $40 million over the next six years. The money will be used to fund research on e-cigarettes and programs that help people quit e-cigarettes and prevent e-cigarette addiction. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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