WASHINGTON — The e-cigarette maker Juul has agreed to pay six states and Washington, D.C., $462 million for its alleged role in fueling the recent significant rise in youth vaping, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday.
The settlement, which includes California and New York, is the largest to date between Juul and state attorneys general, and will also require Juul to disclose a number of previously secret documents, which will be housed in an academic archive.
The settlement comes as Juul fights to keep its products on the market. The Food and Drug Administration effectively banned all Juul vapes in June 2022, but quickly reversed that decision following a legal appeal by the company. Juul has argued in that appeal that regulators unfairly singled out its product as a result of political pressure.
Juul is also currently defending itself in state court in Minnesota, where the state’s attorney general, Keith Ellison, is seeking more than $100 million in damages. That trial began last month and is still ongoing.
A Juul spokesperson said in a statement that the settlement will allow the company to dedicate even greater focus to getting its products through the FDA authorization process.
“With this settlement, we are nearing total resolution of the company’s historical legal challenges and securing certainty for our future. We have now settled with 47 states and territories, providing over $1 billion to participating states, in addition to our global resolution of the U.S. private litigation,” the spokesperson wrote.
Much of the terms of today’s agreement are in line with a $438.5 million settlement between the company and 34 other states and territories, which was inked in September 2022. Both settlements, for example, prohibit the company from using young people in its advertising or taking out billboards to promote its products. (The company announced in 2019 that it was halting all print, broadcast, and digital advertising in the United States.)
The most notable difference between the two settlements is the creation of the academic archive of previously secret Juul documents. Advocates and academics were disappointed that the September settlement between Juul and more than 30 states did not include a similar document disclosure provision, which they say will help them study and document the ways Juul targeted young people in its advertising and marketing.
A previous archive of tobacco industry documents created in the wake of similar 1990s settlements between cigarette companies and state attorneys general has become a cornerstone of research into the tobacco industry.
It’s not clear when the proposed archive will be publicly accessible. The settlement lays out a lengthy process for Juul and the states to debate whether certain documents should be redacted or withheld from the archive.
Previous deliberations over redactions appear to have stalled an effort to set up a similar repository in North Carolina. Juul agreed to create a document disclosure archive when it settled with the attorney general of that state in June 2021, but those documents have still not been released nearly two years later, prompting complaints from academics.