Charleston, W.Va. (WTRF) – The West Virginia Attorney General’s office announced they have reached a $7.9 million settlement with E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. on Monday.

The settlement centers on how Juul advertises and markets its products across West Virginia. It also includes a variety of stipulations for the company moving forward.

Juul Labs Inc. was accused of “engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the manufacturing, designing, selling, marketing, promoting and distributing of e-cigarettes,” particularly in regards to alleged targeting of underage users.

From a legal standpoint, Juul was accused of violating West Virginia’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

“This settlement puts companies like Juul in check to not copy big tobacco’s playbook and gear marketing strategies toward underage people…..In Juul’s case, we have alleged it has deceived consumers about its nicotine strength, misrepresented the nicotine equivalency of its products to traditional cigarettes and understated the risks of addiction that occur with such powerful levels of nicotine.”

Patrick Morrisey, (R) West Virginia Attorney General

Morrisey highlighted several issues in the initial lawsuit regarding how the company marketed their products toward children, including how Juul advertised on social media, their work with social media influencers, fashion blogs, and celebrities with teenage fans.

According to the CDC, a single Juul pod has the equivalent levels of nicotine to a standard 20-pack of cigarettes. Morrisey disagrees with the state, claiming that a Juul pod is equivalent to 1.72 packs of cigarettes.

Data from 2017 says that 14.3% of high school students in West Virginia have used e-cigarettes on at least one day over the past 30 days, slightly higher than the national rate of 13.2%.

Juul Labs released a statement to 7NEWS on the settlement.

“This settlement with the West Virginia Attorney General represents yet another step in Juul Labs’ ongoing commitment to resolve issues from the company’s past. The terms of the agreement, like prior settlements, provide financial resources to further combat underage use and develop cessation programs and they reflect our current business practices, which were implemented as part of our company-wide reset in the fall of 2019. With West Virginia having the highest cigarette-smoking rate in the U.S., we hope that some funds will go directly to interventions to reduce the use of combustible cigarettes and improve public health in the state.”

Juul Labs company spokesman

The statement goes on to note that Juul has now settled with 40 states and territories to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. They state that the company “remains focused on a path forward to secure its future and fulfill its mission to transition adult smokers away from cigarettes – the number one cause of preventable death – while combatting underage use.”

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