(Reuters) — E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. has agreed to pay $462 million to settle claims by six U.S. states, including New York and California, that it illegally marketed its addictive products to minors, the states announced on Wednesday .
With the deal, Juul has now settled with 45 states for more than $1 billion. The company did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, which also includes Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Mexico and the District of Columbia.
The states had accused Juul of falsely marketing its e-cigarettes as less addictive than cigarettes and targeting minors with glamorous advertising campaigns.
“Juul’s lies led to a nationwide public health crisis and put addictive products in the hands of minors who thought they were doing something harmless,”; New York State Attorney Letitia James said at a news conference.
The company said the use of its products by people under 18 had fallen by 95% since the fall of 2019, when it changed its marketing practices as part of a “company-wide reset”.
“With this settlement, we move closer to a total resolution of the company’s historic legal challenges and ensure certainty for our future,” Juul said in a statement.
Juul still faces a lawsuit from Minnesota, where a trial is currently underway, as well as lawsuits or open investigations by Florida, Michigan, Maine and Alaska. In addition to the government settlements, the company last year agreed to pay $1.7 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits from local governments and individual consumers.
Under pressure from regulators, Juul pulled most of its flavors from the market in 2019 and stopped much of its advertising. The US Food and Drug Administration last June briefly banned the products, although it put the ban on hold and agreed to reconsider the action after the company appealed.
Juul’s former largest investor, Marlboro cigarette maker Altria Group Inc., also faces claims over its alleged role in marketing Juul’s e-cigarettes and has not settled.
Altria announced last month that it had given up its investment in Juul in exchange for some of Juul’s intellectual property rights. In December, its stake in Juul was valued at $250 million, down from $12.8 billion in 2018.