Minnesota has settled its legal case against Juul Labs and Altria Group for deceptively marketing e-cigarettes. The terms of the deal will be kept confidential until formal papers are publicly filed with the court.
“After three weeks of trial highlighting and bringing into the public record the actions that Juul and Altria took that contributed to the youth vaping epidemic, we reached a settlement in the best interest of Minnesotans,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison in a statement.
“We followed in the footsteps of former Attorney General Skip Humphrey, who led the historic 1998 tobacco trial in Minnesota. Once again, Minnesota has demonstrated leadership in taking these cases head on, including going to trial to hold tobacco companies accountable, protect our community’s health and protect our kids. One of my goals in bringing this case was to send a message: We will not tolerate youth marketing of nicotine products in Minnesota,” said Ellison.
Minnesota’s deal comes less than a week after Juul Labs agreed to pay $462 million to settle similar claims brought by New York, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico and the District of Columbia.
Of the more than a dozen states and hundreds of local governments that have sued Juul, Minnesota was the first to go to trial. Filed in 2019, the state’s lawsuit alleges that Juul developed sleek devices and flavors that were appealing to youth and that Juul’s marketing deceptively attracted and addicted young people. In 2020, Minnesota amended its complaint to include Altria as a defendant: In 2018, Altria spent $12.8 billion to acquire a 35 percent share in Juul.
In a statement, Juul Labs stressed the importance of resolving legal challenges from the company’s past. “We are pleased to have reached a settlement with the state and will work to finalize this agreement over the coming weeks,” the company wrote.
Juul Labs has now settled with 48 states and territories, providing over $1 billion to participating states to further combat underage vaping and develop cessation programs. In addition, the company has resolved private litigation that covers more than 5,000 cases brought by approximately 10,000 plaintiffs.
“As we reach total resolution of the company’s past, we are focused on our path forward to maximize the value and impact of our product technology and scientific foundation,” wrote Juul. “Our technology already has transitioned over 2 million adult smokers from combustible cigarettes. And our priorities remain to secure authorization of our PMTAs [premarket tobacco product applications] based on the science and lead the category with innovation to accelerate our mission and advance tobacco harm reduction for over 31 million adult smokers in the U.S. and over 1 billion adult smokers worldwide.”