Juul will pay $22.5 million to settle a Washington state lawsuit

AG Bob Ferguson accused the company of marketing its products to minors.

Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Vape pen maker Juul has agreed to settle another state lawsuit alleging that it targeted minors with its marketing. It will pay $22.5 million and undertake measures to prevent underage use and sales to settle a suit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in September 2020. Juul admits no wrongdoing under the settlement, though it told the Associated Press the agreement marked “another step in our ongoing effort to reset our company and resolve issues from the past.”

The AG claimed that when Juul debuted in 2015, it promoted itself with colorful ads on social media, leading to an increase in nicotine use and addiction in teens. Ferguson also claimed in the filing that the company deceived consumers about the addictiveness of its product. His office said the money from Juul's settlement will be used to establish a health equity unit that will "respond to deceptive and discriminatory health care practices that disproportionately impact vulnerable communities and communities of color."

Under the consent decree, Juul is not allowed to promote its products on social media and can't use advertising that appeals to youths. It agreed to monitor and report social media posts from underage users about its products and to require an adult's signature when delivering products that it sells online. Additionally, it must run a secret shopper program in the state for at least two years to ensure retailers aren't selling its products to underage users.

Over the last year, Juul has settled several cases brought by state AGs. It agreed to pay $40 million to settle a case in North Carolina and $14.5 million to settle one in Arizona. The company says it has also resolved a suit in Louisiana but lawsuits in several other states remain active. “We will continue working with federal and state stakeholders to advance a fully regulated, science-based marketplace for vapor products,” the company said.