While Juul has not explicitly admitted that it marketed its e-cigarettes to children, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has called the agreement a big win for the state.
Juul has agreed to pay $40 million to North Carolina. The popular—but controversial—e-cigarette manufacturer has also pledged to change its business practices and operations in the state.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, regulators, activists, and government officials have long held Juul and similar companies responsible for a recent uptick in youth nicotine use. Federal data published in 2019, for instance, showed that nearly a quarter of all high school-aged students had used an e-cigarette in the month preceding the survey.
On Monday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said that his state is the first to hold Juul accountable for allegedly marketing its products to underage youth.
North Carolina, adds CNBC, initiated an investigation into Juul in 2018.
Earlier this year, a judge found that Juul had destroyed documents relating to North Carolina’s inquiries, ignored court orders, and provided thousands of pages of irrelevant or otherwise useless information.
While Juul faced millions of dollars in fines for its lack of cooperation, the Monday agreement will effectively wipe the slate clean.
Under its terms, Juul has agreed to refrain from targeting minors in its advertising; it will only use adults over the age of 35, and has agreed to adopt additional measures to appeal to a more mature consumer base.
The deal also puts a limit on how many Juul devices sand nicotine pods North Carolina-based customers can buy each and every month.
The $40 million payment, says CNBC, will largely go towards helping teenagers recover from nicotine addiction.
“In addition to committing to these important changes to its conduct, Juul has agreed to pay North Carolina 40 million dollars. These funds will be used for proven programs to help kids addicted to e-cigarettes quit, and to prevent any other kids from starting. These dollars will make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of North Carolina teens struggling with e-cigarette addiction,” Stein said on Monday.
In response to the settlement, Juul released a statement pledging to continue its work helping adult smokers abstain from traditional, combustible tobacco products.
“This settlement is consistent with our ongoing effort to reset our company and its relationship with stakeholders, as we continue to combat underage usage and advance the opportunity for harm reduction for adult smokers,” Juul told CNBC.
Stein, though, characterized the decision as a win for North Carolina—and used some choice words to refer to Juul’s prior business dealings.
“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. I’m incredibly proud of my team for their hard work on behalf of North Carolina families. We’re not done — we still have to turn the tide on a teen vaping epidemic that was borne of JUUL’s greed,” Stein’s office said in a written statement.