The agreement with Juul Labs and Altria was announced by the attorney general and governor of Minnesota. After the settlement was reached right before the end of oral arguments last month, the court had to keep it under wraps for 30 days before filing the official paperwork. Numerous lawsuits filed over electronic cigarettes were heard in court for the first time in Minnesota.
Juul has paid out millions in lawsuit settlements, including dozens to different jurisdictions. In a $462 million settlement last month, Juul Labs resolved marketing claims with six states and the District of Columbia. Juul has agreed to restrict marketing to those under the age of 35 and to cut back on retail and online sales.
Keith Ellison, the attorney general of Minnesota, had originally requested more than $100 million in damages. Three weeks of trial “highlighted and brought into the public record the actions that JUUL and Altria took that contributed to the youth vaping epidemic,” said Ellison last month. Juul has promised to work with the government to iron out the technicalities. “We have now settled with 48 states and territories, providing over $1 billion to participating states to further combat underage use and develop cessation programs,” the firm said.
Lawyers in Minnesota charged that Juul marketed their vaping products to minors in an attempt to get them hooked on nicotine. Juul claimed it did not create its product with youth use in mind. After winning a $7.1 billion tobacco verdict in 1998, Minnesota was the first state to test Juul. In 2019, it filed suit against Juul and in 2020, it added Altria as a co-defendant due to Altria’s minority interest. In March, Altria lost $12.8 billion after selling off its assets.
In 2015, Juul Labs was introduced with flavors like mango, mint, fruit medley, and crème brulee. Teens were particularly susceptible to addiction to Juul’s high-nicotine pods. The majority of the company’s flavors were discontinued in 2019, and advertising was halted in the United States. In 2019, Juul held only 33% of the market, down from 75% the year before.