Juul’s $462 million lawsuit settlement: What it might mean for the vaping epidemic

By Stephanie Srakocic | Fact-checked by Davi Sherman
Published April 19, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Popular vape company Juul has paid over one billion dollars to states nationwide in lawsuits alleging that its marketing targeted teens.

  • Vaping is more prevalent among teens than any other age group.

  • Vape use remains high among teens, but its popularity is declining, with Juul seeing a 95 percent decline in underage usage since 2019.

Six states, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Massachusetts, along with Washington, D.C., filed suit against vape manufacturer Juul, alleging that the company’s marketing purposefully targeted teens.

On April 12, 2023, Juul agreed to pay $462 million to settle these claims. The settlement will also limit Juul’s marketing in those states and will require that Juul products are kept behind store counters so that customers’ ages can be verified. This lawsuit is just one of the many legal challenges and public criticisms faced by Juul and the larger vaping industry in recent years.

Vaping and teens

Vaping’s popularity is especially high among teens and young adults. Data from a study conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 13.4 percent of high schoolers used a tobacco product during the 2021 school year. Vaping is the most common way teens reported using nicotine.[] 

Part of this popularity among teens is linked to how vaping products are marketed, as cited in recent lawsuits. Juul e-cigarettes and other vaping products are often colorfully packaged. Advertisements for products.

Additionally, vaping products are sold in flavors that appeal to youth. Juul and other e-cigarette brands offer a wide range of fruit and other sweet flavors that aren’t available in traditional cigarettes. 

“[The thought is that] the marketing and alluring flavors of vaping goods target children and aid in the rise of youth vaping,” says Dr. Naveed Sami, MD, a dermatologist, who has written on a variety of topical health issues and their effect on youth. 

With the often sleek appearance of e-cigarettes, Juul and other vaping products have attracted millions of teen customers, prompting the FDA to declare teen vaping in the US an epidemic in 2018. 

Juul and other vape manufacturers claim that vaping is safer and healthier than traditional cigarette smoking. However, this claim hasn’t been backed up by studies investigating either the contents of vape products or related health effects. A single Juul pod contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, and a 2019 study found that vaping was associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.[][] 

“Vaping has been linked to a number of illnesses and risks, such as respiratory conditions, nicotine addiction, potential long-term health impacts, and even a serious lung injury known as E-cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury,” Dr. Sami elaborated. 

Other vaping lawsuits

Wednesday’s settlement brings the total number of states with which Juul has settled lawsuits to 45 and the total payout amount to over one billion dollars. Lawsuits regarding Juul’s marketing aren’t the only suits filed against the company and other vape manufacturers. A number of other cases have been filed. Notable suits against vaping companies include the following:

In February 2023, the FDA filed against four companies, VapEscape, Great American Vapes, Vapor Corner, and 13 Vapor, for selling unauthorized vaping products.[] 

  • In May 2020, the City of Chicago sued Juul, alleging that the company’s advertising targeted youth and minimized health risks. Juul settled this case on March 10th, 2023, for $23.8 million. 

  • In October 2022, Juul settled over 8,000 lawsuits filed by individuals and families of Juul users, school districts, city governments, and Native American tribes who alleged that the use of Juul products harmed their families and communities and that the company minimized the health effects of vaping.

  • Individual suits for cases of illness and death linked to vaping have been filed.

The future of vaping

Lawsuits have already put a significant dent in Juul’s operations. Sales of Juul in the US have dropped by 95 percent since 2019. The company also stopped selling the majority of its flavored products in the US in 2019. In November 2022, Juul announced it would be cutting its operating budget by 30 to 40 percent and laying off around 400 employees.[] 

Lawsuits have also hurt the overall perception that vaping is safer than traditional cigarette smoking. Although many still hold this belief, individuals are aware of the multiple lawsuits against Juul and other e-cigarette companies. Around the country, public awareness campaigns have been launched to increase education around the dangers of e-cigarettes.

For instance, in New York, the $112.7 million awarded by Juul as part of its $462 million settlement will fund programming to help educate teens about vaping and to help those who already vape or use nicotine products to get the support they need to quit.

Share with emailShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to Twitter