business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the New York Times:

"Juul Labs has agreed to pay North Carolina $40 million to settle the first of a spate of lawsuits brought by states and localities claiming the e-cigarette company’s marketing practices fueled widespread addiction to nicotine among young people and created a new public health problem.

"The settlement, which was announced on Monday morning, allows the company to avoid a jury trial this summer as the Food and Drug Administration is deciding whether its vaping products can stay on the market.

"The company had urgently sought the settlement, but the deal removes just one of numerous legal actions pending against it. Thirteen other states, including California, Massachusetts and New York, as well as the District of Columbia, have filed similar lawsuits. The central claim in each case is that Juul knew, or should have known, that it was hooking teenagers on pods that contained high levels of nicotine.

"Nearly 2,000 other cases filed by cities, counties, school districts and other plaintiffs in federal courts have been combined into multi-district litigation overseen by a single federal judge, similar to what’s been done with cases against prescription opioid makers, distributors and retailers."

Good.  I just wish the first settlement was $400 million, so the promise of further and similar settlements would put these guys out of business.  There's no question in my mind that they just wanted to hook young people on nicotine - a conclusion only reinforced when Altria acquired a 35 percent stake in the company.

They may have to enlarge the special circle of hell that I've always said should be reserved for tobacco marketers.  And maybe raise the heat a little bit.