Juul settlement should stop internet sales of Juul menthol pods in California

On April 11, 2023, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that he (and six other states) has settled litigation against Juul for money, making some of the Juul documents from discovery public, and an agreement by Juul to curb some specific marketing activities. I will be providing a detailed analysis of the settlement later, but one immediate benefit — once it goes into force when a judge certifies it — is that it provides a tool to force Juul to stop sneaking around the edge of California’s law prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Last week Juul started to exploit the fact that California’s flavored tobacco sales ban (SB793) only covers in-person retail sales, not internet sales by sending mailers to people around the state announcing that “As of December 21, 2022 [when SB793 took effect] JUUL.com is the only authorized source for Menthol JUULpods in California.”

Juul could get away with this because, while it is illegal to sell menthol Juul pods at brick-and-mortar retailers in California, there is no such restriction on internet sales.

The new settlement prohibits this activity. Specifically, Paragraph 9 says, “JLI shall not Promote or otherwise provide any JUUL Product to any consumers in any flavor that violates state or local laws in California.”

And state and local laws prohibit the sale of menthol e-cigarettes in California.

In addition, this mailer violates settlement paragraph 22 that requires “JLI shall not send direct-to-consumer Promotional emails, materials, or text messages for JUUL Products to any consumers in California who are not Verified.” The settlement defines “verified” in paragraph 1(ee) as someone over 21 who “submits non-expired government identification.” The person who received this mailer never registered with Juul. So, under the settlement Juul is not allowed to send such broad mailers.

No settlement and no law, for that matter, will have any impact unless it is enforced. Stopping Juul from doing these things should be at the top of the AG’s implementation to-do list.

Published by Stanton Glantz

Stanton Glantz is a retired Professor of Medicine who served on the University of California San Francisco faculty for 45 years. He conducts research on tobacco and cannabis control and cardiovascular disease/

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