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The JUUL Settlement Saga

Key points:

  • JUUL has settled more than $1 billion in lawsuits for its alleged misleading marketing practices and addictive, dangerous products.

  • Some states are earmarking settlement money for addressing and reducing e-cigarette use, including enhancing vape detection.

 

JUUL – an American electronic cigarette company that first emerged in 2015 – continues to pay for its alleged contributions to the youth vaping epidemic, most recently shelling out $462 million to New York, California, and other states in April. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first singled out the company with a warning letter in 2019, stating it was marketing to underage individuals using various youth-enticing strategies.

A gavel crushing a cloud of smoke.

Lawsuits Arise Nationwide

"As of March, there were 5,969 Juul lawsuits from around the United States combined in multidistrict litigation…representing both class action lawsuits and individual personal injury cases filed in four states," according to Drugwatch.

Similarly, school districts across the country have filed lawsuits against JUUL with significant success. The lawsuits addressed concerns about JUUL's marketing practices, which used influencers to saturate social media channels frequented by teens and offer discount coupons. Many cases asserted that the company misled individuals about their products, making it seem like vapes were safer than cigarettes and contained less nicotine. Other lawsuits alleged that the company failed to provide appropriate warnings of the potential dangers of its products.

Despite FDA and legal attention on JUUL since 2019, last year's National Youth Tobacco Survey still had 22% of e-cigarette users relying on this brand, ranking it the third most preferred.

Soaring Payouts

According to a statement on JUUL's website issued in April, the company has settled with 48 states and territories, providing more than $1 billion to participating states to further combat underage use and develop cessation programs. An additional statement mentions the resolution of U.S. private litigation that covers more than 5,000 cases brought by approximately 10,000 plaintiffs.

Funding Vape Detection

Some schools have reported to local media about their plans to purchase and install vape detectors with the funds received from settlements. Such devices can identify the presence of tiny particles emitted from e-cigarettes and be placed discreetly, enhancing their ability to detect vape activity. Zeptive's Vape Sensor has many advantages:

  • Easy installation

  • Detects all types of vape, including non-nicotine, nicotine, and marijuana (THC) based vape and simultaneously detects smoke

  • Extremely sensitive

  • Portable and wire-free makes for ease in moving, if needed

  • Several features to deter tampering

Aside from school settings, the Zeptive Vape Sensor can also be utilized effectively in workplaces and hotels.

JUUL's Status

While JUUL has taken financial blows and decreased in popularity, it can continue to sell its devices and unflavored pods to individuals over the age of 21. Although the FDA did ban JUUL products from being sold in the U.S. in June 2022, it was put on hold after an appeal by JUUL. The ban remains on hold as the agency reviews JUUL's marketing application to date.

Settlement Success

A student's backpack and pencil case with JUUL pods.

Many health and legal authorities believe JUUL was highly instrumental in contributing to the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The hope is that other manufacturers of vaping products will take notice of the legal victories against JUUL and refrain from targeting youth. Meanwhile, the funds generated from settlements will focus on educational programs and tools to combat vaping, especially among young individuals.


By Linda Antinoro Reviewed by Cindy Bistany, DHSc


References

  1. Cooper M, Park-Lee E, Ren C, Cornelius M, Jamal A, Cullen KA. Notes from the Field: E-cigarette Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:1283–1285 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7140a3.htm?s_cid=mm7140a3_w

  2. JUUL Labs. Newsroom. JUUL Labs. Retrieved from https://www.juullabs.com/about/newsroom/

  3. Turner, T. (2023, April 10). E-Cigarette Lawsuits. Drugwatch. https://www.drugwatch.com/e-cigarettes/lawsuits/

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2022, December 20). Results from the Annual National Youth Tobacco Survey. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/youth-and-tobacco/results-annual-national-youth-tobacco-survey

  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2022, July 5). FDA Denies Authorization to Market JUUL Products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-denies-authorization-market-juul-products

  6. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2019, September 9). FDA Warns JUUL Labs for marketing unauthorized risk tobacco products, including outreach to youth. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-warns-juul-labs-marketing-unauthorized-modified-risk-tobacco-products-including-outreach-youth


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