“Juul targeted young people and misled them about their products,” Stein said in a press release from October 30, 2020. “My goal in bringing this case is to protect them. I am pleased that the Court has allowed this important case to move forward. We cannot allow another generation of North Carolinians to become addicted to nicotine because of these reckless and illegal business practices.”
Finally as a result of the proceedings, this week Juul Labs reached a $40 million settlement and agreed to limit its sales and marketing practices, in order to minimize youth access to it’s products.
Juul efforts to redeem its reputation
A Juul spokesperson, as quoted by Time, admitted that the settlement is also part of an “ongoing effort to reset our company and its relationship with our stakeholders” and “earn trust through action.” Being at the receiving end of multiple lawsuits and incessant scrutiny, Juul has been doing its utmost to convince the FDA and general public that it is committed to prevent teen vaping.
In 2019 the manufacturer had announced a new product that can help monitor users by collecting information about the user such as when and where they vape, and is even able to utilize a facial recognition feature to keep it out of the hands of children. Additionally, the Juul had halted the sales of its flavoured nicotine pods.
Donations to lawmakers
However, in what certainly considered by many another desperate attempt to win authorities’ favour, 2020 filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, indicated a $7,500 donation to General Majority, a Sweeney-tied super PAC, dated Jan. 24th, less than two weeks after the Senate and Assembly passed a bill supported by Sweeney, NJ A5922 (18R), that could have banned Juul’s products.
Filings with the Internal Revenue service, also indicate that Juul had donated $50,350 to the Democratic Governors Association in August and September 2019, and again almost the same amount to the Republican Governors Association a few months later.
With regards to the General Majority donation, Juul said that this was effected in response to an invitation to a fundraising event for the super PAC. The donation appears to be the only state-level contribution Juul made in New Jersey.
“At JUUL Labs, our philosophy is to support people and organizations to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes, including state political committees on a bipartisan basis around the country,” said company spokesperson Austin Finan in a statement. “We remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with lawmakers, attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to achieve those goals.”