Juul Labs reached an agreement in principle to pay $438.5m (€438m) to 33 states to resolve a two-year bipartisan probe into the e-cigarette manufacturer’s marketing and sales practices, particularly claims that it marketed addictive nicotine products to children.
The accord, which also includes Puerto Rico, would force Juul to comply with a series of “strict injunctive terms severely limiting their marketing and sales practices,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who led the negotiations with Texas and Oregon, said in a statement.
Under the deal, Juul will refrain from all youth marketing, paid product placement, advertising on public transportation, funding education programs, depicting anyone under 35 years old in advertisement or using cartoons in ads, among other marketing activities, according to the statement. Juul also agreed not to advertise on billboards or use paid influencers to promote products.
“Juul’s cynically calculated advertising campaigns created a new generation of nicotine addicts,” Mr Tong said in the statement.
“They relentlessly marketed vaping products to underage youth, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced users, employed an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers about the nicotine content and addictiveness of its products.”
Juul said in a statement that the settlement is a “significant part of our ongoing commitment to resolve issues from the past”, adding that the terms of the deal are in alignment with its current business practices.
“We remain focused on the future as we work to fulfil our mission to transition adult smokers away from cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death, while combating underage use,” the company said.
The agreement follows some earlier deals with individual states. Juul in April reached a $22.5m settlement with Washington state over claims that it unlawfully targeted underage consumers. North Carolina struck a $40m accord with Juul in 2021 over how the company markets products to underage users.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his state will receive nearly $43m, adding “any company that misleads Texans, especially our youth, will be held accountable for their actions”.