Juul to Split $2 Billion Bonus Among 1,500 Employees — an Average of $1.3 Million Per Person

Altria, which owns Marlboro, paid a $2 billion dividend to Juul — which will be split among Juul's 1,500 employees as a bonus

The Juul vaping system in Washington, DC.
Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty

Altria, which owns Marlboro, bought a 35 percent stake in e-cigarette company Juul for $12.8 billion, and as part of the deal, it paid a $2 billion dividend — which will be split among Juul’s 1,500 employees as a bonus, a source familiar with the matter tells PEOPLE.

While that comes out to about $1.3 million per person, the exact amount each individual receives will depend on the length of time spent as an employee at Juul and how much equity is owned, the insider explains.

Following the deal with the tobacco giant, which was announced on Thursday, Juul is now worth $38 billion, making it one of the highest-valued startups in Silicon Valley, the source says.

The news comes on the tails of the e-cigarette company’s November decision to stop selling flavored pods in stores and end social media promotion in an effort to end the “epidemic” of teenage vaping.

The Food and Drug Administration was getting ready to announce similar restrictions on the company, after saying that a “public health tragedy” is underway with the vast number of teenagers illegally using the product. Juul controls 74 percent of the market for e-cigarettes.

Juul has said its goal was never to attract teens — who generally do not meet the 18 and up age requirement to purchase e-cigarettes — to the product. Rather, the company said it wanted to provide an alternative to toxin-heavy cigarettes for people who already smoke.

(While Juul and other e-cigarettes have fewer toxins than traditional cigarettes, they provide a higher dose of nicotine and are considered highly addictive.)

“We don’t want anyone who doesn’t smoke, or already use nicotine, to use JUUL products,” Juul CEO Kevin Burns said in a statement last month. “We certainly don’t want youth using the product. It is bad for public health, and it is bad for our mission.”

In October, the FDA raided Juul offices and seized more than 1,000 pages of documents in their search for “further documentation related to Juul’s sales and marketing practices,” according to Today.

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The raid was a continuation of the FDA’s investigation into the rise of e-cigarette use among underage teenagers. The agency first requested information on Juul’s marketing practices in April, and the company has said that they’ve since provided more than 50,000 documents.

Undercover operations over the summer initially found that many national retailers like Walgreens and 7-Eleven were illegally selling e-cigarettes to minors, and the FDA sent warning letters to Juul and other manufacturers telling them that they were not doing enough to curb teen use.

Juul in particular became popular with high school students for their easily concealable size — they look similar to a flash drive — and the variety of fruit flavors, like mango and coconut.

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