Town of Chicago has reached a $23.8 million settlement with Juul Labs over claims that the e-cigarette firm aimed its vaping merchandise towards an underage market.
This settlement comes after a 2020 lawsuit, during which the town accused Juul of violating two municipal codes by “advertising and marketing JUUL Merchandise to youth” and “partaking in insufficient age verification,” amongst different complaints.
“E-cigarette companies can’t be allowed to return in our metropolis and enhance their income on the expense of minors,” Chicago’s public well being commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, mentioned in a press release.
The settlement additionally says the settlement is just not an admission by Juul Labs “of any legal responsibility or wrongdoing, or of the reality of any of Chicago’s allegations.”
“This decision is one other step in our ongoing dedication to resolve points from the previous,” a Juul spokesperson mentioned in reference to an organization “reset” that came about in 2019. The corporate is now centered on grownup people who smoke who need to “to transition … away from flamable cigarettes whereas combating underage use of our merchandise.”
Vape firms are sometimes criticized for his or her flavored merchandise, which information exhibits usually entice the eye of younger and even underage people who smoke. “Nationally, greater than 8 of each 10 youth, aged 12-17 years who use e-cigarettes mentioned they use flavored e-cigarettes,” the Illinois Division of Public Well being writes.
As part of its 2019 reboot, Juul stopped promoting all flavored merchandise besides menthol and tobacco. Cucumber, mango, fruit medley and different flavors have been ditched because of their recognition amongst younger people who smoke.
Town of Chicago banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in September 2020.
“Chicago was one of many first cities within the nation so as to add e-cigarettes to its Clear Indoor Air Ordinance, the primary huge metropolis to impose a vaping tax, and the primary jurisdiction wherever to incorporate menthol in a flavored tobacco gross sales ban, which covers shops inside 500 ft of excessive faculties,” a metropolis information launch mentioned on the time.
Juul has confronted scores of lawsuits from cities, states and people over claimed youth-targeted advertising and marketing. In a lawsuit the state of Illinois filed in opposition to Juul in late 2019, the state describes advertisements with “younger fashions in flirtatious and playful poses” and says Juul used social media to market. As part of firm’s “reset,” Juul suspended all advertising and marketing.
Town’s announcement mentioned the Chicago Division of Public Well being will use settlement funds to “stop and cut back youth vaping via training, native insurance policies, mother or father and instructor helps, cessation helps, enhancements in information, and neighborhood engagement and outreach initiatives.”
Chicago’s settlement is likely one of the largest particular person settlements up to now. In September 2022, Juul settled an identical go well with with 33 states for nearly $440 million. A number of states have obtained funds agreements for sums normally between $10 million and $20 million. North Carolina settled for $40 million.
The Chicago settlement additionally protects Juul going ahead. A part of it stipulates that Chicago agrees to not “take any new authorized motion (excluding legal prosecutions)” in opposition to Juul sooner or later, barring sure circumstances. Juul should pay the town $2.8 million within the subsequent 30 days after which the rest of the settlement “later this yr.”
”The latest information present that previously 5 years, vaping amongst Chicago’s school-aged kids elevated by 56%,” Joel Africk, president and CEO of Respiratory Well being Affiliation, mentioned in a metropolis information launch. “This settlement will go a good distance within the Chicago Division of Public Well being’s battle in opposition to power illness.”