Electronic cigarette maker Juul has settled lawsuits covering approximately 10,000 plaintiffs which include about 5,000 California cases and a number of school districts. The school districts sued the company in an effort to recoup costs incurred by what they call a “vaping epidemic” among students. A lawyer representing 60 such districts hailed the settlement and called it a “tremendous victory.”
Juul has long been seen as the prime cause of a striking increase in youth vaping. The company has settled a significant number of lawsuits over its marketing methods that critics and plaintiffs alike say targeted young people and led them to take up the use of nicotine. Juul’s moves into younger markets was even noticed by those who worked there, leading many to react with both shock and confusion as they believed they were working for a company on a mission to provide a cleaner, less toxic way of ingesting nicotine for current smokers of traditional cigarettes.
The marketing efforts certainly worked. According to numbers published by the CDC in 2020, about one in four high school students was vaping, as well as ten percent of American middle schoolers.
Since the lawsuits began, the company has struggled to stay in business. The latest settlement will be paid via an equity investment secured through its investors. Additional funds have been tapped to maintain business operations, however layoffs are on the horizon as Juul has stated that it will lay off an additional 400 employees and cut its operating budget by upward of 30%-40%.
The company also faces as uncertain future as FDA action is pending that may shutter its doors for good. Initially caught up in a sweeping federal move that saw marketing denials for millions of vaping devices and liquids in the United States, the company appealed the FDA’s ruling and is now awaiting the result of a re-examination of its application to continue to produce and market its products.