• June 19, 2024

FTC Drops Complaint After Altria’s Juul Exit

 FTC Drops Complaint After Altria’s Juul Exit
Photo: Paul Brady

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on July 3 dismissed a complaint against Altria Group and Juul Labs relating to the cigarette maker’s 2018 investment in Juul, reports Reuters.

In late 2018, Altria paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent state in Juul. The FTC said in 2020 that Altria’s investment violated antitrust law because the company acquired the position rather than continuing to compete against Juul in the market for closed-system e-cigarettes.

After Altria exchanged its entire investment in Juul for a global license to Juul heated tobacco intellectual property, the tobacco giant asked the FTC to drop its challenge.

Altria terminated its Juul stake after the investment lost much of its value in the wake of regulatory scrutiny and litigation relating to Juul’s marketing practices. On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered Juul Labs to pull its e-cigarettes from U.S. store shelves, saying the e-cigarette manufacturer had submitted insufficient evidence that they were “appropriate for the protection of the public health.” After Juul challenged the marketing denial order (MDO), the FDA agreed to take another look at the company’s pre-market tobacco product application.

The agency said it had determined that there are scientific issues unique to the Juul application that warrant additional review. 

In early September 2022, Juul Labs agreed to pay nearly $440 million to settle a two-year investigation by 33 U.S. states into the marketing of its vaping products, which critics have blamed for sparking a surge in underage vaping.

On Sept. 30, 2022, Altria announced it was ending its noncompete agreement with Juul.