Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
Jason S. Miyares
202 North 9th Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
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ATTORNEY GENERAL MIYARES ANNOUNCES $438.5 MILLION AGREEMENT WITH JUUL
~ Virginia is expected to receive $16.61 million ~
RICHMOND, VA – Attorney General Jason Miyares announced today that Virginia and 33 other states and territories have joined a $438.5 million agreement in principle with JUUL Labs. This resolves a two-year bipartisan investigation into the e-cigarette manufacturer’s marketing and sales practices. Virginia is set to receive $16.61 million over six to ten years.
JUUL is also required to comply with a series of strict injunctive terms severely limiting their marketing and sales practices.
“Youth vaping is an epidemic, and from the get-go JUUL has been a leader in the e-cigarette industry. But JUUL targeted young people with deceptive social media advertising campaigns and misled the public about the product’s dangers. My office will continue to go after and hold accountable companies that market addictive products like e-cigarettes to minors, with no concern for their health or well-being,” said Attorney General Miyares.
It is both illegal and unhealthy for youth to purchase and use e-cigarettes. Despite this, the multistate investigation revealed that JUUL rose to its position as the most dominant player in the e-cigarette market by willfully engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to youth.
The investigation found that JUUL relentlessly marketed to underage users with launch parties, advertisements using young and trendy-looking models, social media posts and free samples. It marketed a technology-focused, sleek design that could be easily concealed and sold its product in flavors known to be attractive to underage users. JUUL also manipulated the chemical composition of its product to make the vapor less harsh on the throats of the young and inexperienced users. To preserve its young customer base, JUUL relied on age verification techniques that it knew were ineffective.
JUUL deceived consumers by not clearly disclosing on the original packaging that the product contained nicotine – it also implied that it contained a lower concentration of nicotine than it did. Consumers were also misled to believe that consuming one JUUL pod was the equivalent of smoking one pack of combustible cigarettes. The company also misrepresented that its product was a smoking cessation device without FDA approval to make such claims.
As part of the agreement, JUUL has agreed to refrain from:
- Youth marketing
- Funding education programs
- Depicting persons under age 35 in any marketing
- Use of cartoons
- Paid product placement
- Sale of brand name merchandise
- Sale of flavors not approved by FDA
- Allowing access to websites without age verification on landing page
- Representations about nicotine not approved by FDA
- Misleading representations about nicotine content
- Sponsorships/naming rights
- Advertising in outlets unless 85 percent audience is adult
- Advertising on billboards
- Public transportation advertising
- Social media advertising (other than testimonials by individuals over the age of 35, with no health claims)
- Use of paid influencers
- Direct-to-consumer ads unless age-verified, and
- Free samples.
The agreement also includes sales and distribution restrictions, including where the product may be displayed and accessed in stores, online sales limits, retail sales limits, age verification on all sales, and a retail compliance check protocol.
The following states joined Virginia in the agreement: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The investigation was led by Connecticut, Texas, and Oregon.