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Juul settles with North Carolina in first teen vaping lawsuit

The company can no longer claim vaping is safer than cigarettes... in North Carolina

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Juul has agreed to settle its first state lawsuit over deceptive business practices with North Carolina, a move that will limit the vaping company’s marketing claims and placement of products in stores.

Under the settlement, Juul will no longer use marketing strategies geared toward young people, including most social media marketing campaigns, advertising near schools, and sponsoring sporting events or concerts. The company also cannot use models under 35 years old for advertisements in the state, and it’s required that Juul products are sold behind the counters of stores, according to The News & Observer. Juul will also pay a $40 million fine to the state.

“North Carolina is now the first state in the nation to hold Juul accountable for its instrumental role in sparking the epidemic of youth vaping and its resulting nicotine addiction,” North Carolina attorney general Josh Stein said in a press statement today.

Juul will also send undercover teen agents to 1,000 stores each year to make sure Juul products aren’t being sold to those under age 18.

“This settlement is consistent with our ongoing effort to reset our company and its relationship with our stakeholders, as we continue to combat underage usage and advance the opportunity for harm reduction for adult smokers,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge.

This is the first known lawsuit Juul has settled for its deceptive marketing practices, but it’s far from the last on the docket. The company faces similar lawsuits in at least nine other states, according to CNBC, and at least 100 schools have joined a national lawsuit to recoup costs associated with anti-vaping campaigns. Thirty-nine other states are also considering similar lawsuits to North Carolina’s, according to The News & Observer.

Juul stopped selling fruity flavored pods like mango in 2019 as part of an effort to head off these mounting lawsuits. The company ceased selling mint-flavored pods shortly after. Under the North Carolina settlement, Juul cannot introduce new flavors or new levels of nicotine in the state without prior approval from the FDA. The FDA is already reviewing whether Juul and other e-cigarette products can stay on the market beyond September 2021.