Landmark Settlement Reached Against JUUL
Last month, JUUL lost big. How big? $40 million and a new series of stringent regulations. This settlement is the result of North Carolina’s three-year investigation into the company’s targeting of teenage users.
Along with the financial agreement, here are a few of the new requirements JUUL is ordered to comply with in the state:
- The minimum age for people featured in marketing materials is now 35.
- JUUL can no longer pay influencers to tout their products.
- The settlement limits the number of devices and pods North Carolina consumers can buy per month.
This could only be the beginning for JUUL’s legal problems. Nine other states are actively pursuing legal action, while 39 additional states are investigating the company.
What About Oklahoma?
While Oklahoma is not currently investigating JUUL, the Cherokee Nation filed a lawsuit in September 2020. The suit claims JUUL employed insidious marketing practices and used Native American children as test subjects to develop their products.
Lawmakers also found that JUUL sold “starter kits” to tribal representatives. JUUL then encouraged the distribution of the kits to citizens free of charge, while promising these new products were a safe alternative to smoking — a claim that remains grossly unsubstantiated to this day.
According to Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., “Juul created a vaping epidemic throughout this country, but Native American teenagers in the Cherokee Nation and others were used by these companies in a way that was truly evil.” He stated that because they are “more vulnerable to addiction,” Cherokee youth were specifically targeted by JUUL in their quest to develop new, addictive products. His claim is bolstered by eye-raising statistics. While the U.S. adult smoking rate is 13.7%, tobacco use among American Indian and Alaska Natives stands at 22.6%.
A look at vape use data reveals an even greater disparity. According to 2019 Youth Tobacco Survey data, 40.4% of American Indian and Alaska Native high schoolers were current e-cigarette users, compared to 27.5% of the overall high school population.
The Cherokee Nation isn’t the only Oklahoma lawsuit that JUUL faces. In June 2020, Shawnee Public Schools joined a lawsuit alongside 90 other school districts across the nation, claiming JUUL marketed their products to underage users. They were the first school district in Oklahoma to file suit against JUUL Labs.
There’s no denying the irreparable damage caused by JUUL and other e-cigarette companies across the nation. Tens of millions of teens face a lifetime of nicotine addiction while each of these companies tallied billions in profit. Their time may finally be coming to an end.
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