Electronic cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs has agreed to pay $438.5 million to settle a two-year investigation by 33 states and Puerto Rico into the company’s marketing to teenagers.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who led the negotiations with officials from Texas and Oregon, announced the agreement on Tuesday. He said money from the settlement would go toward “programs nationwide to drive down tobacco use.”
“JUUL’s cynically calculated advertising campaigns created a new generation of nicotine addicts,” Tong said in a 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 product. The full public health ramifications of this misconduct are yet unknown.”
As part of the settlement, Juul will pay at least $438.5 million over six years or as much as $476.6 million over 10 years.
Juul, which previously sold its pods in flavors like mango and creme, has long been blamed for a spike in teen vaping, according to The Associated Press. The company stopped marketing its products with parties, giveaways and other promotions years ago amid scrutiny of its practices, the AP reported.
On Tuesday, officials with Juul said in a statement that the settlement reached Tuesday “is a significant part of our ongoing commitment to resolve issues from the past.”
“We remain focused on the future as we work to fulfill our mission to transition adult smokers away from cigarettes – the number one cause of preventable death – while combating underage use,” the statement said.
In a statement issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, officials said that Juul “became a dominant player in the vaping industry by willfully engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to youth, even though its e-cigarettes are both illegal for them to purchase and unhealthy for youth to use.”
“The investigation found that JUUL relentlessly marketed to underage users with launch parties, advertisements using young models, social media posts, and free samples,” the statement said.
As part of the settlement, Juul agreed to restrict marketing its products to people under 35 years old, to limits to its in-store displays and access, to limits to its online sales and more, officials said.
With Tuesday’s settlement, officials said they have reached agreements with 37 states and Puerto Rico. Included in Tuesday’s agreement were Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi and several other states. Previously, the company reached a $22.5 million settlement with officials in Washington and a $40 million settlement in North Carolina, according to KIRO-TV and WSOC-TV.
The settlement was announced as officials with the Food and Drug Administration continue to review Juul’s products after moving to ban them over the summer.
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