The Harris County Attorney has announced a settlement in the county's lawsuit against Altria Group, Inc., Philip Morris USA, Inc., and related companies regarding their deceptive marketing of Juul e-cigarette products to minors.
Harris County Attorney Christian emphasized the significance of this victory for Harris County residents and the government. The lawsuit aims to hold e-cigarette companies accountable for promoting Juul products to young people, leading to a nationwide problem of youth addiction to vaping.
Juul is an electronic nicotine delivery system that heats a nicotine solution to produce an aerosol for users. The county's lawsuit alleged that Altria, as a part owner of Juul, played a role in expanding the company's youth-friendly nicotine flavors to a wider customer base.
Harris County made history in 2021 by being the first governmental entity in Texas to file a lawsuit against Juul, Altria, and related entities in response to the youth vaping epidemic. In February, Harris County resolved its claims against Juul as part of a global settlement.
The funds obtained from the settlement with Altria and other entities will be deposited into Harris County's general fund, and the distribution of these funds will be determined by the Commissioners Court.
In a separate case, the Florida Attorney General initiated a lawsuit against Juul Labs, accusing the company of marketing its products to children inappropriately and providing misleading information about the nicotine content in its offerings.
The lawsuit against Juul alleges that the company engaged in extensive marketing campaigns aimed at underage users. These efforts included hosting launch parties, using youthful models in advertisements, active social media presence, and distributing free product samples. Juul also designed its products with a modern, tech-savvy appearance that could be easily hidden and offered flavors known to be attractive to underage consumers.
In response, Juul stated that the attorney general chose not to participate in a settlement the company reached with 48 states and territories. Juul highlighted the steps it has taken, such as discontinuing the distribution of non-tobacco and non-menthol products in anticipation of FDA guidance on flavors, ending mass-market product advertising, and reorganizing the company to focus on combating underage use. Juul claimed that these efforts resulted in a 95% reduction in underage usage of its products.