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Minnesota vs. JUUL Labs: 2023 Settlement Agreement
In 2019, the state of Minnesota sued JUUL Labs, Inc. on behalf of the people of Minnesota for violating Minnesota’s consumer-protection laws, breaching its duty of reasonable care, and creating a public nuisance. The complaint alleged JUUL developed products with more addictive doses of nicotine than other commercial tobacco products but represented that its products are a safe alternative. The complaint also asserted JUUL developed trendy products and popular flavors designed to appeal to youth, and claimed JUUL neglected its duties to verify its customers’ ages and institute adequate controls to prevent underage Minnesotans from purchasing its products.
- Read the Complaint (PDF).
Prior to this lawsuit, commercial tobacco use rose dramatically among Minnesota youth. In October 2019, Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey showed that over the prior three years, the percentage of 11th graders in Minnesota who vaped in the last 30 days grew more than 50%, the percentage of 9th graders grew 75%, and the percentage of 8th graders grew nearly 100%. Moreover, 75% of Minnesota youth who used e-cigarettes had never smoked a cigarette before.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain. Because the brain is still developing until about age 25, youth and young adult exposure to nicotine can lead to addiction and disrupt attention and learning.
- Learn more about Health Risks of Nicotine for Youth.
On May 17, 2023, Minnesota’s Office of the Attorney General announced a settlement agreement with JUUL Labs. Under the terms of the agreement, JUUL and Altria (JUUL Labs’ parent company) will together pay a total of $60.5 million to the state of Minnesota over an eight-year period. The payment schedule is frontloaded: it requires JUUL and Altria to pay $22.75 million within 30 days and another $12.75 million by March 2024, meaning that the State will receive nearly 60% of the total value of the settlement in less than one year. The value of Minnesota’s settlement with JUUL and Altria is the largest per capita of all 48 states and territories that have settled with JUUL.
- Read the Consent Judgement (PDF).
In addition to paying the State’s legal costs, including the costs of litigation and attorney’s fees, the settlement agreement also:
- Prohibits JUUL from marketing and selling to children and young adults, including use of models under the age of 35, advertising on apparel, entertainment, and social media platforms, and the sale of flavored products;
- Restricts JUUL’s ability to sponsor events and use outdoor advertising in Minnesota;
- Prevents JUUL from distributing product samples;
- Requires that Juul accurately disclose the nicotine content of Juul products;
- Directs how JUUL products may be sold in-store and limiting online sales; and
- Creates a retailer compliance program for Minnesota stores to ensure that JUUL products are being sold with proper age verification.
The settlement also requires JUUL and Altria to publish their internal documents related to the litigation in a public document depository.
After legal fees, remaining settlement dollars will be paid out over eight years. Legislation passed in 2023 dedicates these settlement funds to the Minnesota Department of Health to:
- Prioritize preventing people under the age of 21 from using commercial tobacco, electronic delivery devices, tobacco-related devices, and nicotine delivery products.
- Promote racial and health equity; and
- Use strategies that are evidence-based or based on promising practices.
About the Lawsuit and Settlement
- State of Minnesota v. JUUL Labs, Inc. (2019) – Public Health Law Center
- JUUL Litigation Settlement Guide and Interactive Map – Public Health Law Center
- 7/27/23: How to Spend JUUL Settlement Funds: Champion Our Children, Target Commercial Tobacco – Public Health Law Center
- JUUL Lawsuit Update September 2023 – Forbes Advisor
- School Districts’ Legal Battle with JUUL Isn’t Over – Education Week