The Center Square | by Christian Wade | September 28, 2022
(The Center Square) – Maine has pulled out of a $440 million multistate settlement with e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, citing a provision that would prevent them from filing new lawsuits.
Under the terms of the settlement between the company and 33 states, Maine would have received about $11 million to settle an investigation into Juul’s marketing of its high-nicotine vaping products to teens.
But Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said the state would have had to agree to a terms prohibiting school districts from suing the company, which he wasn’t prepared to do.
“We are disappointed in the outcome of these negotiations, but ultimately we were unwilling to waive the rights of other entities who are also trying to hold Juul accountable for its deception,” Frey said in a statement.
The attorneys general launched an investigation into e-cigarette retailers in July 2018 in response to what health officials described as an epidemic of underage vaping.
Juul has become a major target for public health organizations, sparking legal challenges and investigations by Congress, federal agencies and state attorneys general.
The e-cigarette company contends its products are a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, which remain the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. The company has cited research suggesting that 47% of adult smokers will switch from regular cigarettes after using tobacco-free products.
But the states’ multi-year investigation determined that Juul intentionally marketed its e-cigarettes to underage teens with parties, and flashy ads using young models, according to court filings.
The settlement amounts to roughly 25% of Juul’s U.S. sales of $1.9 billion last year, according to court filings.
In a statement, Juul said the settlement resolves “a significant part of our ongoing commitment to resolve issues from the past” but said it believes that the Food and Drug Administration’s move to ban all Juul e-cigarettes from the market earlier this year was “substantively and procedurally flawed” and “should be rescinded.” The company has appealed the FDA directive.
Others in the settlement, in addition to Maine, included Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.