It alleged that tobacco company Altria, which also owns Marlboro and Virginia Slims, agreed not to compete with Juul for six years as it took a 35% stake.
“For several years, Altria and JUUL were competitors in the market for closed-system e-cigarettes. By the end of 2018, Altria orchestrated its exit from the e-cigarette market and became JUUL’s largest investor,” Ian Conner, director of the Bureau of Competition, said in a release.
Altria denied the FTC allegation and plans to “vigorously defend” its investment.
E-cigarette companies like Juul came under increased regulatory scrutiny last September after being linked to a series of. In early February, the CDC said there had been 64 deaths and more than 2,700 hospitalizations linked to vaping.
Juul didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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