Remember when Juul was everywhere, and all the kids thought it was cool? So does the state of North Carolina, which sued the vape pod company in 2019. Now, Juul has agreed to pay $40 million over six years to settle that lawsuit just before it was set to go to trial in July, the Wall Street Journal reports. “North Carolina is now the first state in the nation to hold Juul accountable for its instrumental role in creating a youth vaping epidemic," says Attorney General Josh Stein. Juul, which once held 75% of the e-cigarette market, must pay the first $13 million in 30 days, and the money is earmarked for helping teens kick the e-cig habit, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
The sleek device and sweet flavors were marketed in youth-friendly ads on social media. (And mocked, too, as anyone who remembers “We get it, you vape” can tell you.) But the company stopped those ads and quit selling pods that taste like anything but menthol or tobacco when it got new management in 2019. The settlement puts into law measures Juul was already taking—stopping most social media ads, outdoor ads near schools, and sports and concert sponsorships. Juul denies it did anything wrong and says its product is focused on harm reduction for adult smokers, but will work with Stein on developing “industry-wide marketing practices based on science and evidence,” the Washington Post reports. (Read more Juul stories.)