In the midst of various legal battles faced by Juul/Altria, both companies have been accused of racketeering for allegedly marketing their products directly to young individuals. However, Juul and Altria vehemently deny such claims, asserting that their marketing approaches have significantly evolved since the initial launch of Juul devices on social media. Another lawsuit brought against the companies involves the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which alleges that they have violated antitrust laws.
In a more recent development, Juul has agreed to pay a staggering $1.7 billion to settle over 5,000 lawsuits filed by school districts, local governments, and individuals. These lawsuits argue that Juul has contributed to the alleged teen vaping epidemic.
The Impact of the 2018 Deal and Pending PMTAs Following a deal in 2018, Altria acquired a 35% stake in Juul, which restricts the tobacco company from conducting business with any other vape brand apart from Juul. Consequently, due to the numerous lawsuits and the ongoing situation with Premarket Tobacco Product Applications (PMTAs) faced by Juul in recent years, Altria's stock has suffered a decline.
According to reports from the Financial Times, Altria has chosen to exchange its minority stake in Juul Labs for intellectual property rights to some of the vape manufacturer's heated tobacco prototypes. Billy Gifford, the chief executive of Altria, has stated that this strategic move represents the "appropriate path forward for our business."
Investing in a Safer Vape Manufacturer Meanwhile, Altria Group Inc. has announced its plans to acquire NJOY Holdings Inc. for a minimum of $2.75 billion. NJOY presents a safer alternative compared to Juul, as it received marketing permits from the FDA last May for its Ace closed vape device and three accompanying tobacco-flavored pods. This authorization allows NJOY's products to be legally marketed across the United States, although it is important to note that this does not imply these products are inherently safe or "FDA approved."