The US state of North Carolina has reached an out-of-court agreement with Juul Labs that will require the company to pay $40m over six years and make “drastic changes to the way it conducts business”.
State attorney general Josh Stein (pictured) announced today: “North Carolina is the first state in the nation to successfully hold Juul accountable for its role in spiking teen use and dependence on e-cigarettes.”
The cash will fund programs to research e-cigarettes and help vapers to quit.
According to Stein, Juul has committed to:
- Refraining from marketing that appeals to under-21s
- Not advertising on social media or through influencers
- Not advertising near schools
- Not sponsoring sporting events or concerts
- Making no marketing claims comparing the health effects of Juul with those of combustible cigarettes
- Using an independent age-verification system for all online sales
- Ensuring products are kept behind store counters
- Maintaining a secret shopper program in North Carolina to ensure these measures are followed
- Not introducing new flavours or nicotine content levels without US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorisation.
A number of these points relate to measures Juul had already publicly committed to before the announcement of this agreement.
Stein, who sued Juul in 2019 for “designing, marketing, and selling its e-cigarettes to attract young people and for misrepresenting the potency and danger of nicotine in its products” today accused the company of lighting the spark and fanning the flames of a “vaping epidemic” among high-school students.
He said: “This win will go a long way in keeping Juul products out of kids’ hands, keeping its chemical vapour out of their lungs, and keeping its nicotine from poisoning and addicting their brains.”
And he added: “We’re not done – we still have to turn the tide on a teen vaping epidemic that was born of Juul’s greed.”
North Carolina is one of a number of US states to have initiated similar legal actions against Juul Labs, while Stein also sued eight other e-cigarette companies in 2019.
– Aidan Semmens ECigIntelligence staff