I expect this will be the first of many, many, MANY settlements paid out by Juul in lawsuits and investigations both into its business practices and its targeting teens with advertising. Juul has been an especially sleazy company for years and the roosters are finally starting to come home to roost.
The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into Juul’s targeting of minors in 2018. During that investigation, the courts found that Juul illegally destroyed documents, ignored court orders and wasted the state’s time by loading them with irrelevant documents.
Juul agreed to pay a $40 million settlement because its court fines for its actions were actually much more.
From a CNBC article:
“North Carolina is now the first state in the nation to hold Juul accountable for its instrumental role in creating a youth vaping epidemic,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said at a press conference revealing the agreement Monday.
North Carolina kicked off its investigation in 2018 and announced the lawsuit the following year. In May, the judge for the case ruled that Juul destroyed documents, provided thousands of pages of irrelevant information and ignored related court orders. The company faced millions of dollars in fines tied to that decision, but the agreement announced Monday will wipe that slate clean.
Under the agreement, Juul will not be able to target its advertising to minors, use anyone in its marketing materials who is younger than 35 years old or pay for influencers to promote its products, among other restrictions.
Here’s the great news. There’s nine other states that have filed similar lawsuits against Juul and a coalition of 39 states is investigating Juul.
I predict that when it’s all said and done, Juul will end up paying over $1 billion in various settlements for its advertising and business practices and Altria will happily pay it with its massive legal war chest as the price of doing business.
Altria (Philip Morris, Marlboro) bought a controlling share into Juul in 2018 and most of the company’s execs from its heyday 3 to 5 years ago quietly scurried off.