North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced on Monday that the state reached a $40 million settlement with Juul which also requires the company to make significant business changes. The lawsuit against Juul was filed in 2019 and alleged that it designed, marketed, and sold e-cigarettes in a way that would attract youth and misrepresent the dangers of nicotine.
“North Carolina is now the first state in the nation to hold JUUL accountable for its instrumental role in sparking the epidemic of youth vaping and its resulting nicotine addiction,” Stein said. He claimed that the settlement is a large step in keeping the company’s e-cigarettes away from kids.
Under the settlement, which was outlined in the filing, Juul committed to not use marketing to appeal to consumers under 21, not use social media or influencer advertising, not sponsor sporting events or concerts, not compare health effects of its cigarettes versus traditional cigarettes in marketing, only complete online and retail sales to those who are age verified, and obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for any new flavors.
In the final consent judgment entered in the North Carolina state court lawsuit, the court approved the settlement and dictated that documents the company produced to the state would be made public, with certain information redacted. The judgment also discussed enforcement, and determined that the state could take action if there is a threat that requires immediate attention, but in general the parties should confer with each other in good faith if there is an alleged violation. The judgement also included a most-favored nation provision where the settlement could be reconsidered if settlements are made with other states.
Stein said that the efforts to address youth use of nicotine is not over, and that he plans to keep fighting to prevent youth addiction to nicotine. “For years, JUUL targeted young people, including teens, with its highly addictive e-cigarette. It lit the spark and fanned the flames of a vaping epidemic among our children – one that you can see in any high school in North Carolina,” Stein said.
The $40 million payment, which the parties agreed would be made to the state throughout the next six years, will be used to fund programs helping people in North Carolina to quit e-cigarette usage, prevent addiction, and complete research.