RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — E-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs will be required to pay Virginia at least $16.8 million as part of a settlement with a bipartisan coalition of 33 states.
Attorney General Jason Miyares made the announcement on Tuesday, Dec. 6, saying that the settlement — totaling $434.9 million for all states — resolves claims that Juul used social media marketing, easily concealable products, youth-friendly flavors and other means to lure young people into nicotine addictions for profit.
“I am proud of my office’s efforts to address the harm caused in this case nationwide and here in Virginia,” Miyares said. “Our consumer protection section will continue to work tirelessly to hold bad actors accountable when they disregard the health and welfare of Virginians, particularly our youth.”
Virginia is set to receive $1.58 million from Juul in the first payment, following the settlement’s approval in court. The settlement also prohibits Juul from certain marketing tactics, including:
- Marketing to youth
- Funding education programs
- Depicting persons under 35 years of age in any marketing
- Using cartoon advertisements
- Selling flavors not approved by the FDA
- Allowing access to websites without age verification on the landing page
- Advertising in outlets without 85% of the audience being adults
- Using paid influencers
Attorney General Miyares previously announced the agreement in principle in September.
Federal survey data shows that teens have largely shifted away from the company since it began to face nationwide backlash over its business practices. The data did show a drop in vaping rates among teens, but federal officials cautioned that the drop may be attributable to pandemic restrictions and that rates may jump again with students returning to in-person learning.
The Richmond-based Altria Group – formerly known as Phillip Morris – was a major investor in Juul, but lost more than $11 billion on the company as it faced pressure from regulators. Altria owns approximately 35% of Juul, and the company represents Altria’s major foray into vaping and other tobacco alternatives – a venture that now appears to broadly be a failure.
Attorney General Miyares filed the settlement as a proposed Consent Judgment today in the City of Richmond Circuit Court. The settlement requires court approval.