NEW YORK, April 20 — In the United States, single-use e-cigarettes and devices that use disposable ‘pods’ or cartridges are a real hit, especially among the very young. These products are closely monitored by the authorities, which do not hesitate to take legal action against the manufacturers of these attractive-looking e-cigarettes, seemingly marketed to minors. As a result, manufacturers are sometimes shelling out tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits and continue selling their products.

April 13, the Juul Labs company agreed to pay US$22.5 million (RM96 million) to the state of Washington to settle a lawsuit filed in 2020 by attorney general Bob Ferguson. The latter accused the vape pen manufacturer, known for its disposable pod system, of targeting young people — even underage consumers — in its marketing campaigns, as well as downplaying the addictive nature of its products and their health effects.

The attorney general lamented that the company’s actions had “reversed decades of progress fighting nicotine addiction.”

While the US company did not admit to any wrongdoing, it has agreed to pay the sum of US$22.5 million and curb its advertising campaigns aimed at young people, including on social networks. Juul also agreed to require sellers of its vape pens and products to verify the age of their customers.

“The terms of the settlement are consistent with our current business practices and past agreements to help combat underage use while offering adult smokers access to our products as they transition away from combustible cigarettes,” a company spokesperson said.

The clampdown continues

The market for single-use electronic cigarette products and disposable pods is growing among teenagers, specifically through advertising on social networks. Single-use vape products are particularly appealing to young people through their often sweet and original flavors, and their highly colourful packaging.

But these e-cigarettes are harmful to health and can lead to addiction. Indeed, contrary to what was (or wasn’t) written on the packaging of Juul Labs’ products prior to 2018, these vapes generally contain a high level of nicotine, up to five times as much as other comparable products.

In an attempt to curb disposable vape pens and nicotine pods, US states are not hesitating to take legal action against the companies marketing them. Juul Labs has already agreed to pay US$14.5 million to the state of Arizona, US$40 million to North Carolina and US$10 million to Louisiana. Proceedings are still underway in lawsuits from 11 other states and the District of Columbia, not to mention nearly 3,000 private plaintiffs. — ETX Studio