Vaping firm Juul Labs has agreed to pay the US state of North Carolina $40 million and will stop advertising its electronic cigarettes to people under the age of 21, as part of a landmark legal settlement.
The settlement comes after accusations the US-based firm has contributed to a steep rise in the number of teenagers vaping by marketing its products, which contain addictive nicotine, towards young people.
As well as age restrictions, Juul has agreed to limit online sales in North Carolina to ‘verified’ customers, and in controlled quantities, and only sell its products at retailers that have ID scanners on counters to check buyers’ ages.
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Juul will also not use social media, influencers or free products in its marketing, according to a consent order published on Monday.
The use of e-cigarettes among American teens increased by more than 70% after Juul was set up in 2015, a trend the US Food and Drug Administration dubbed an “epidemic” of underage vaping.
“North Carolina is now the first state in the nation to hold Juul accountable for its instrumental role in creating a youth vaping epidemic,” the state’s Attorney General Josh Stein told a press conference discussing the settlement on Monday.
The agreement in North Carolina – described as the first of its kind – is being followed up by at least nine other states, which are pursuing individual cases against Juul.
“This settlement is consistent with our ongoing effort to reset our company and its relationship with our stakeholders, as we continue to combat underage usage,” Juul said in a statement.
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