Minnesota leaders announce $60.5M settlement with Juul, Altria
E-cigarette maker Juul and tobacco giant Altria have agreed to pay $60.5 million to Minnesota as part of a settlement for deceptive marketing practices, according to a consent judgment filed Wednesday.
The case settlement is the largest per capita of the 48 states that have reached settlements with the companies so far, according to Attorney General Keith Ellison.
While payments will stretch over an eight-year period, the bulk will be paid within the first year, with $22.75 million coming in the next 30 days and another $12.75 million due by March 2024.
A sizeable portion of the payment will go toward reimbursing Minnesota’s legal costs. In a statement, Ellison said the state spent $8.6 million on legal costs — covering depositions, discovery, expert witnesses and other expenses — and another $8.9 million on outside counsel.
Ellison said there is a bill working its way through the Legislature that would put the rest of the settlement money into a fund administered by the Minnesota Department of Health to prevent youth smoking and vaping.
Other terms of the settlement are aimed at curtailing Juul’s ability to market e-cigarettes in Minnesota.
Among other stipulations, Juul is restricted from marketing to children and young adult in Minnesota, including a provision that models must be 35 or older; the company can’t sponsor events or use outdoor ads; Juul can’t distribute samples of its product; and Juul pod packaging must accurately show the product’s nicotine content.
The settlement also requires Juul to work with retailers on making sure vapes and cartridges are only sold to people with proper identification.
As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, the settlement was reached on the day of closing arguments in the trial against the two companies.
RELATED: Opening statements underway, trial begins for Minnesota case against Juul, Altria
Settlement terms had remained confidential since documents needed to be filed with the court. Before the trial, Ellison said he was seeking more than $100 million in damages.
Last year, Ellison spoke out after multiple states reached a $438.5 million settlement deal with Juul, saying Minnesota wasn’t a part of that particular settlement. He issued a statement on Twitter regarding that deal, saying in part, “We are taking Juul and Altria to trial in March 2023 – we’ll be the first state to do so – for deceiving Minnesotans about the harms of their product, esp on young ppl. We can do better in holding them accountable.”
While dozens of other states also filed lawsuits against the companies, Minnesota was the first to take the companies to trial.