Juul Labs, the largest e-cigarette manufacturer in Washington, will pay $22.5 million to Washington State. The settlement was announced Wednesday by Bob Ferguson, state attorney general.
Ferguson stated that the company bombarded social media with colorful advertisements shortly after the product was launched in 2015. This led to teens becoming addicted and a rise in vaping. Ferguson’s office reports that the percentage of high school seniors vaping in Washington increased from 13% in 2016 to close to 21% in 2018.
Juul Labs, who filed the consent decree in King County Superior Court said that they had committed no wrongdoing and that it was “another step” in their ongoing efforts to reset the company and address issues from the past.
Juul reached a $14.5 million settlement with Arizona state prosecutors, only months after it had agreed to pay $40 million in North Carolina. The company also promised not to market its products to minors in these states, just as it did in Washington. This was to increase enforcement for retailers who sell Juul’s products.
The company stated that it will continue to work with state and federal stakeholders to create a science-based, fully regulated marketplace for vapor products.
Juul must cease all advertising targeting youth under the Washington state settlement. It is also prohibited from marketing its products via social media such as Instagram and Facebook. Juul must monitor and report any social media content regarding JUUL products that are posted by underage users.
Juul’s website states that Juul had stopped advertising prior to Ferguson being sued in 2020. It also ended all sales of flavored products, except tobacco and menthol.
Ferguson claims that the secret shopper program is stronger than those offered in previous settlements. Juul must send secret shoppers to Washington-based Juul retailers at least 25 compliance inspections per month. This agreement will be in effect for at least two years. These checks must be done in all 39 counties of the state.
Ferguson’s office stated that secret shoppers must verify that the retailers comply with the requirements to verify an individual’s age and to ensure that the Juul purchase limit of one Juul device or 16 Juul pods per transaction is met.