Washington state’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson and his team of prosecutors just won a $22.5 million settlement in a deceptive advertising lawsuit of E-cigarette giant, Juul.
Even though Juul would admit to no wrongdoing, they were ordered to cease almost ALL social media advertising. Conducting stricter age verification checks was another requirement.
The lawsuit alleged Juul intentionally targeted teenagers with its products and deceived consumers by downplaying vaping product’s addictiveness.
Ferguson stated, “Juul’s conduct harmed Washingtonians and Juul violated the law, they did it over and over again.”
Juul retained they settled “for the purpose of compromising” and to avoid further litigation.
While they were ordered to stop deceptive advertising they can continue to run Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn ads but they must feature adults that are already habitual cigarette smokers who give testimony about Juul products.
Another requirement of the settlement is to conduct a robust “secret shopper” program in Washington to confirm the ages of its customers, with at least 25 checks per month for at least two years. This program can confirm whether retailers are complying with product and age limits and the results are to be reported back to the attorney general.
Juul has four years to make the payments and the money will be used to establish a new “Health Equity” unit. An added benefit will be tracking the impact of their deceptive marketing to “disproportionately vulnerable communities and communities of color.”
Twelve Other States have Lawsuits Against Juul
Juul currently faces similar lawsuits in at least 12 other states, Ferguson said.
If you’d like to learn if you were the target of descriptive practices in greater detail the lawsuit outlines the social media campaigns and specific targeted wording and how the marketing worked.
You can read more descriptive reporting in the Seattle Times > Another Win for Ferguson, WA State Attorney General
Also, in November, Arizona was awarded $14.5 million and the Vaping company Juul was ordered not to market to young people in the state. They were also ordered to pay North Carolina $40 million in June last year, even though they denied any wrongdoing or liability.