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Health, Science & Environment

States reach proposed $438 million settlement with JUUL for marketing nicotine to teenagers

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A collection of 33 states have reached a proposed $438 million settlement with JUUL, one of the largest e-cigarette companies in the country, for what investigators said was an intentional marketing strategy that targeted underaged teenagers.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the settlement is the result of a two-year, multi-state investigation into JUUL’s “misguided” marketing and sales practices.

“No nicotine marketing to kids!” Yost said in a statement. “It was wrong when it was Joe Camel, and it’s wrong when it’s JUUL's ‘Miint’ and ‘Fruut’ flavors and their influencer-led targeting. This settlement puts an end to Juul’s trawling for new addicts among our children.”

The attorney general’s office said the investigation into JUUL found that the company targeted underage users with “launch parties; advertisements using young, trendy-looking models and influencers; social-media posts; and free samples.”

The investigation also revealed that nearly all of JUUL’s advertising was conducted on social media, which skewed towards a younger audience. For example, 45% of JUUL’s Twitter followers were 17 and younger.

Yost’s office said JUUL falsely implied on its original packaging that the e-cigarette contained a lower concentration of nicotine than it does. A statement from Yost’s office said JUUL contains more nicotine than most other e-cigarettes.

Along with the money, the settlement would also include strict rules for JUUL to follow in the future, such as prohibiting the company from depicting anyone under the age of 35 in its marketing.

The money would be paid out over the course of six to 10 years. The proposed agreement is being finalized in a process that could take three to four weeks.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.