Juul to Pay $438.5 Million in Settlement Over Its Marketing Strategies

E-cigarette manufacturer Juul will pay $438.5 million dollars to 33 states and one territory in a settlement for its marketing and sales practices. Juul executives have repeatedly denied that the company was marketing towards the youth population. They argue that Juul is designed for adult smokers as a safer alternative to cigarettes. However, a two year investigation found that Juul illegally marketed its cigarette products towards young people.

Juul’s marketing strategies to attract younger populations included free samples, social media advertisements, and the use of young models in its campaigns. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong summarized in a statement that “[t]hey relentlessly marketed vaping products to underage youth, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced users, employed an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers about the nicotine content and addictiveness of its products.” Although Juul never admitted to explicitly targeting youth, they knew their primary consumers were the younger population and modified them accordingly. Juul’s sleek designs and sweet flavors such as cucumber, mango, and mint became highly popular among teenagers after its launch in 2015, causing Juul to continue adding new flavors. Its sales soared, and Juul became one of the biggest companies in its industry. 

The current settlement will limit Juul’s exposure to teenagers, including restrictions on depicting anyone younger than 35 in its digital and physical advertisements. Notably, Juul also agreed to never fund education programs in schools or sell Juul-branded merchandise. The FDA will also have to approve its future flavors as well as depiction of nicotine. Juul had already withdrawn several of its flavored pods as well as ceased a few marketing practices during the previous years after facing public pressure from parents, health professionals, and legislators. 

This deal, which will be paid out over 6 to 10 years, is the biggest settlement Juul has agreed to. While these steps are not sufficient to fully stop children from vaping, the new restrictions will heavily limit the leading sellers of e-cigarettes by reducing their exposure and attractiveness to the younger population. Juul still faces numerous lawsuits from local governments, attorney generals, and other individuals across the nation. The vaping crisis remains a looming issue among young adults, especially high schoolers. As other e-cigarettes enter the market and rise in popularity, more restrictions will be needed to limit the next generations’ exposure to nicotine.