Wisconsin and 32 other states finalize $435 million agreement with JUUL Labs
MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin DOJ announced Thursday that it and 32 other states and territories finalized a $435 million agreement with JUUL Labs, resolving a two-year bipartisan investigation into the e-cigarette manufacturer’s marketing and sales practices.
Wisconsin’s allocated share of the agreement is more than $14.7 million. In addition to the financial terms, the settlement would force JUUL to comply with a series of strict terms severely limiting their marketing and sales practices. “This agreement is the result of a bipartisan effort to hold JUUL accountable for marketing e-cigarettes to young people,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “We must continue working to keep kids safe from e-cigarettes.”
Karen Timberlake, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee, says, “We applaud the efforts of the Wisconsin DOJ in reaching this settlement that will prevent JUUL from engaging in further deceptive marketing practices that target youth. Preventing the exposure of Wisconsin’s children and young adults to harmful nicotine products reduces their chance of developing addiction and other nicotine-related health risks. This is a win for Wisconsin families as we work to protect the health and safety of the youth in our state and across the nation.”
JUUL was, until recently, the dominant player in the vaping market. The multistate investigation revealed that JUUL rose to this position by willfully engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to youth, even though its e-cigarettes are both illegal for them to purchase and unhealthy for youth to use. The investigation found that JUUL relentlessly marketed to underage users with launch parties, advertisements using young and trendy-looking models, social media posts, and free samples. It marketed a technology-focused, sleek design that could be easily concealed and sold its product in flavors that were attractive to underage users. JUUL also manipulated the chemical composition of its product to make the vapor less harsh on the throats of young and inexperienced users. To preserve its young customer base, JUUL relied on age verification techniques that it knew were ineffective.
The investigation further revealed that JUUL’s original packaging was misleading in that it did not clearly disclose that it contained nicotine. Later, packaging implied that it contained a lower concentration of nicotine than it actually did. Consumers were also misled to believe that consuming one JUUL pod was the equivalent of smoking one pack of combustible cigarettes. The company also misrepresented that its product was a smoking cessation device without FDA approval to make such claims.
The $435 million will be paid out over a period of six to ten years, with the amounts paid increasing the longer the company takes to make the payments. If JUUL chooses to extend the payment period up to ten years, the final settlement would reach $472.6 million.
The agreement also includes sales and distribution restrictions, including where the product may be displayed and accessed in stores, online sales limits, retail sales limits, age verification on all sales, and a retail compliance check protocol.
For information on consumer protection and deceptive practices in Wisconsin or to file a complaint, contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at (800) 422-7128 or visit DATCP’s website at datcp.wi.gov.
To view the conditions of the agreement, click here.
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