Cigarette-maker Altria said Thursday that it is taking a $4.1 billion charge because of its investment in e-cigarette company Juul.
The Virginia-based company pointed to the numerous legal cases pending against Juul and said it expects the number of cases to grow, CNBC reports.
The company said in a statement that the number of legal cases pending against Juul has increased by more than 80 percent since last October.
“Despite the unexpected challenges related to our investment in JUUL, which led to impairment charges and reported losses, we made significant progress advancing and building our noncombustible business platform with the launch of IQOS and completion of the on! transaction," Howard Willard, Altria’s chairman and CEO, said in the statement. "We enter 2020 with continued focus on harm reduction. We believe Altria’s enhanced business platform best positions us to succeed under various future category scenarios.”
Back in December 2018, Altria bought a 35 percent stake in Juul for $12.8 billion.
Altria took charges totaling $8.6 billion in 2019, CNBC noted, adding that the value of its 35 percent stake in Juul was brought down to $4.2 billion at the end of last year.
E-cigarettes, especially Juul, came under heavy scrutiny in 2019, with the outbreak of a vaping-related lung injuries.
Many states have either restricted e-cigarettes in some capacity or having pending litigation with the industry.