In June 2021, Juul Labs, Inc. reached a $40 million settlement with the state of North Carolina over the state’s 2019 lawsuit about the company’s e-cigarette marketing targeting underage users. The lawsuit claimed that the company aggressively marketed its JUUL e-cigarettes to youths and lit an epidemic of teen vaping addiction.
North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein said of the settlement: “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.” North Carolina is the first state to hold Juul Labs, Inc. responsible for their part in the teen vaping epidemic.
The settlement comes as Juul faces thousands of lawsuits nationwide on three main litigation tracks: personal injury, consumer class action, and government entity. In the personal injury cases, plaintiffs allege that they suffered addiction, lung injuries, and other health problems after using JUUL products. In the consumer class action track, individuals claim that they paid too much money for a product that led to addiction. The government entity track includes school districts, states, and counties asking for compensation for vaping-related damages.
The majority of the personal injury cases have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court of Northern District of California.
JUUL released a statement after the settlement was announced, saying the deal is “consistent with our ongoing effort to reset our company and its relationship with our stakeholders.”
The FDA Takes Action
In September 2018, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced that underage e-cigarette use has reached epidemic proportions and the FDA would take immediate action: “We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger. We’re announcing the largest-ever coordinated initiative against violative sales in the history of the FDA. This is the largest single enforcement in agency history. It’s aimed at retail and online sales of e-cigarettes to minors.”
The North Carolina settlement comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in February 2020 that it would emphasize enforcement against manufacturers of illegally marketed flavored e-cigarettes - especially those whose products are popular with underage users. The FDA stated: “Importantly, this policy is designed to be flexible, enabling the agency to focus its priorities as warranted to address youth use. If the FDA sees a product that is targeted to kids, the agency will not hesitate to target that product.” Companies that continue to make and sell unauthorized cartridge-based e-cigarettes with flavors other than tobacco and menthol will receive warning letters or fines.
Multistate Investigation into JUUL
In February 2020, Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas announced a 39-state bipartisan investigation into JUUL. The investigation is focused on JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, especially the marketing targeting youth, claims about JUUL’s nicotine content, statements about risks of e-cigarettes versus traditional cigarettes, and statements about JUUL’s safety and effectiveness.
The settlement money will be paid to North Carolina over six years. The funds will be used for programs to help users quit e-cigarettes and prevent e-cigarette addiction.
In addition to the monetary compensation, JUUL also agreed to the following:
Not use anyone under age 35 in its marketing materials
Cannot pay influencers to promote JUUL products
Avoid marketing that appeals to people under age 21
Not advertising near schools
Not sponsoring sporting events or concerts
Ensuring JUUL products are sold behind store counters
North Carolina stores selling JUUL products will receive monthly visits from secret shoppers to ensure compliance with retail restrictions
Require an independent age verification system to make sure online customers are over age 21
Receive FDA authorization for any new e-cigarette flavors
How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You
If you or a loved one has been addicted to JUUL or been diagnosed with severe injuries including lung damage, stroke, heart attack, or death after using JUUL e-cigarettes, contact our team at GoldenbergLaw today. We have provided clients with the Gold standard of advocacy for more than 35 years and you can leave the sleepless nights to us!