Editor’s Note: A previously published version of this story stated that this was a new lawsuit the state filed against Juul. The Oregon Attorney General’s Office has since clarified that the complaint is part of the finalization of the settlement Oregon and other states reached with the company in September, 2022.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is working to finalize a settlement deal that was reached in September 2022 with the e-cigarette company Juul Labs, Inc.
On Tuesday, the state filed consent orders to move forward on the settlement.
Juul Labs agreed to pay nearly $440 million to settle an investigation by 33 states, including Oregon, into how the company may have marketed its products to teenagers.
In September, when the settlement was announced, Rosenblum’s office released a statement that said, “The settlement forces JUUL to comply with a series of strict injunctive terms severely limiting their marketing and sales practices. Oregon will receive $18.8 million in the settlement but could receive up to $20.5 million if JUUL extends the payment schedule.”
Rosenblum co-led the investigation with the attorneys general of Connecticut and Texas.
In its complaint against Juul, Oregon had accused the company of violating the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act and asked the company to pay up to $25,000 for each time it violated the act.
The complaint focused heavily on how Juul marketed and made its products available to underage consumers.
The Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act states that companies cannot employ any “unconscionable tactic” when it comes to selling their goods; cannot cause consumers to be confused by or misunderstand the goods they’re selling; cannot lie about their products’ characteristics, ingredients or qualities; and cannot lie about their goods’ standard, quality or grade.
Rosenblum accused Juul of doing all these things.
In the complaint, she accused Juul of marketing, promoting advertising and distributing its highly-addictive nicotine products to minors, despite the fact that the products are illegal for minors. She said this demonstrates the company used “unconscionable tactics” to market its goods.
By marketing its e-cigarettes as safer options than traditional cigarettes and saying they could be used to help people stop smoking, the complaint said the company also violated the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
The complaint accused Juul of misrepresenting the nicotine content of a JUULpod. Juul is accused of saying one pod contained nicotine content that is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. In fact, according to Stanford Medicine, one Juul pod contains approximately 41 mg of nicotine and one pack of cigarettes contains approximately 20 mg of nicotine.
Juul is also accused of failing to disclose the fact that its products contain nicotine and how much nicotine they contain.
The lawsuit said all these examples are ways in which the company violated the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
When the settlement was announced in September, Rosenblum said, “Hopefully, this settlement will provide states with needed resources to help young people stop using e-cigarettes and will prevent future generations from being targeted with slick marketing tactics like those used to attract youth to JUUL’s products.”
The attorney general’s office said the settlement will be paid out over the next 6 to 10 years. The company could end up paying more than the $438.5 million settlement if it takes up to 10 years to complete the payment.
A Juul spokesperson issued a statement Tuesday as Oregon and other states moved forward with their consent orders.
“The filing of these consent orders is part of moving forward on our previously announced settlement with 33 states and territories and is a continuation of Juul Labs’ progress to resolving issues from the past. The terms of the agreement are aligned with our current business practices which we started to implement after our company-wide reset in the fall of 2019.
“As past issues continue to be resolved, Juul Labs remains focused on a path forward to secure its future and fulfill its mission to transition adult smokers away from cigarettes – the number one cause of preventable death – while combating underage use.
“As we work through the FDA’s administrative appeals process of its now-stayed MDO and our products remain available for adult smokers, we are confident in our ability to advance the harm reduction opportunity in the United States.”