JUUL Signs a Settlement Limiting Marketing to Teens

Interviewer 1: And we’re joined by WGY legal analyst, Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Paul, good morning.

Paul: Hey, good morning, guys.

Interviewer 1: So yesterday, we were talking. JUUL has suspended sales of their flavored vaping product and now, they’ve agreed to a settlement regarding their marketing to teens. So, what does this mean?

Paul: Yeah, what we’re seeing probably is a precursor to what is gonna be very similar to what we saw in the ’90s with these tobacco lawsuits. So, they’ve agreed in essence to say, “Listen, we’re gonna…you know, we had models in our ads that looked very youthful, looked teenage. We’re gonna make them 28 or over.” They’re also gonna say, “Hey, listen. We can’t appear at schools marketing our product.” And they’re also gonna limit certain events, sporting events that they cannot advertise at. But this was sort of like, I guess we’ll call it shot across the bow. They said, “We’re not gonna do these flavored, certain flavored JUUL products” but other products are still gonna be out there, and I think this is the beginning of lots of lawsuits.

Interviewer 2: Well, because JUULs already made these changes, does that mean in a way that they are showing any shred of guilt now that they’ve kind of put these in play?

Paul: No, not really. You know, what we’ve got, it’s gonna be a case of whether or not they gave proper notice. You know, we look back to, well, we remember kind of, maybe, years ago where the surgeon general came out and said, “Hey, cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health,” that got put on there. The cigarette manufacturers said, “Listen.” You know, they point to that and say, “Look, you did it to yourself, we put the warnings on.” Here, there just were not a whole lot of warnings and they really didn’t have a lot talking about how much nicotine was in there. So, yes, it’s good, but I think what they do is they fear that there’s gonna be some prolonged litigation for teens who maybe got hooked young and then, now have developed lung-related illnesses.

Interviewer 1: Well, yeah, now that there, you know, there aren’t warnings or there weren’t, there wasn’t a whole lot known out there and they were saying it was, you know, a safer alternative and really, it wasn’t that true. So, now that these people have gotten sick and some of them hospitalized, some even, you know, families have had a death in their family as a result of someone vaping, could this open the door up to lawsuits because there weren’t those warnings on them?

Paul: Door’s wide open. In fact, you know, I kinda looked this morning and started to count how many law firms nationally are doing JUUL cases and there’s several hundred, that will probably turn into several thousand. So yes, they’re out there open for business, so to speak, and there’s gonna be…Now, it doesn’t mean it’s gonna be an easy case because if you look at what they’re saying, it’s, “Listen, we are an alternative to cigarettes for adults. You know, we’ve never said…you know, it’s 21.” You gotta be 21 to purchase, right? So, you know, it’s not a layup as it pertains to claims, but I do think that the federal government is gonna come in and create some very similar language to what we saw with the attorney general on tobacco products. President Trump has intimated as much and I think probably we are gonna see that in the next several, probably months because it is a hot issue. And where it goes, will be lawsuits, whether they’ll be successful or not, I guess, will be an ongoing story.

Interviewer 1: WGY legal analyst, Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, 1-800-LAW-1010. Paul, thank you.

Paul: You’re welcome. Bye, guys.