E-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs Inc. will pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office filed In an attempt to limit the company's reach to minors.
Juul said it has settled similar cases in Washington state — agreeing to pay $22.5 million there — as well as Arizona and North Carolina.
In the Louisiana case, Attorney General Jeff Landry had charged Juul with manufacturing e-cigarettes that intentionally exploited younger markets.
A 76-page filing in November says Juul used tactics akin to tobacco companies years ago — before the full health effects of traditional cigarettes were known — that included designing sleek, concealable devices that featured “fun flavors like mango and cool mint” and were promoted with slick ad campaigns.
Landry also accused Juul of “deceptive marketing practices” regarding the device’s concentrations of nicotine, a highly addictive chemical found in cigarettes. Juul bills itself as an alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes.
Landry’s office had sought to prevent Juul from selling the product to minors and wanted to limit available flavors to tobacco and menthol. Prosecutors also sought financial penalties from Juul.
A statement from a Juul spokesman acknowledged the settlements in Louisiana and elsewhere.
“This settlement is another step in our ongoing effort to reset our company and we applaud the Attorney General’s plan to deploy resources to combat underage use,” the Juul statement said. “We will continue working with federal and state stakeholders to secure a fully regulated, science-based marketplace for vapor products.”
In a motion to dismiss the suit filed April 4, the attorney general’s office references a written settlement agreement with Juul. The agreement wasn’t available in court records Thursday. The attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment or a copy of the settlement.
However, a Juul spokesman said the agreement was a monetary settlement only with no stipulations.
In Washington, Juul signed a consent agreement that, in addition to financial penalties, will require the company to frequently check retailers to prevent sales to underage consumers and refrain from advertising on social media or other avenues geared toward minors.
Starting in 2019, Juul began shifting its corporate strategies after it brought on a new CEO. It suspended all of its broadcast, print and digital advertising in the U.S., and stopped selling non-tobacco and non-menthol flavors that same year.