DURHAM N.C. — Electronic cigarette giant Juul Labs Inc. will pay $40 million to North Carolina over the next six years and take more action to prevent underage use and sales.
That's according to a landmark legal settlement announced on Monday after years of accusations that the company had fueled an explosion in teen vaping.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein had accused Juul of unfair and deceptive marketing practices targeting young people to use its vaping products, which delivers addictive nicotine.
Juul promises not to advertise to anyone under 21 in North Carolina and says it will put restrictions in place for sales both online and at brick-and-mortar retailers.
Juul will have to ensure that its products are sold behind counters so shoppers in the state cannot access them without a shop employee’s assistance.
Under the settlement, Juul will have to maintain a retailer compliance secret shopper program in the state to ensure these measures are followed and hold retailers accountable if they fail to do so.
The company also can’t introduce new flavors or nicotine content levels in the state without FDA authorization.
The company also says it will not make claims that compare the health effects of using Juul with the effects of combustible cigarettes in its marketing materials in the state.
“For years, Juul targeted young people, including teens, with its highly addictive e-cigarette. It lit the spark and fanned the flames of a vaping epidemic among our children – one that you can see in any high school in North Carolina,” said Stein in a statement. “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."
Stein says the millions of dollars that will be paid by Juul to the state will fund programs to help people quit e-cigarettes, prevent e-cigarette addiction, and research e-cigarettes.