The Bay State will receive $41 million as part of a massive $462 million settlement with vaping giant Juul for its alleged role in the youth vaping epidemic that led to a rise in underage e-cigarette use nationwide.
The funds from the largest multistate agreement with Juul will help young people quit vaping and support underage vaping abatement programs, according to the attorneys general who made the announcement on Wednesday.
The agreement also requires Juul to secure its products behind retail store counters, and to verify the age of consumers that directly sell or promote its products online.
“Make no mistake, Juul’s targeting of young people rolled back decades of progress in combatting underage tobacco and nicotine use, and has led to a nationwide public health crisis for young people all across this country,” Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell said during the settlement announcement.
“They (Juul) targeted those young people, and they hooked them on Juul products to ensure the continued and long-term use of vapes by one of our youngest, most vulnerable populations,” Campbell later added.
This settlement “marks the next chapter to hold this company accountable for their wrongdoing,” she said.
The attorneys general from six states and D.C. emphasized that Juul used deceptive ads to glamorize vaping and lied about the dangers of its products. Juul used colorful ads featuring young models using fruity, sweet, and minty flavors that appealed to youth, the officials said.
In 2019, the attorneys general sued Juul for targeting minors and igniting a public health crisis. They told kids that vaping was safer than smoking cigarettes and misled people about the amount of nicotine in its products, according to the lawsuit.
The $462 million from the settlement will be used to stop kids from vaping and help ensure that future generations understand the harms of vaping, the attorneys general said.
As part of the settlement, Juul must stop all marketing to kids and cannot use anyone under 35 in ads, limit the number of retail or online purchases anyone can make, and secure retail products behind a counter like cigarettes.
In addition to Massachusetts, the attorneys general in this settlement are from New York, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, and D.C.
New York AG Letitia James announced the $462 million settlement with Juul “for causing a nationwide youth vaping epidemic.”
“Taking a page out of Big Tobacco’s playbook, Juul misled consumers about the health risks of their products,” James said. “The e-cigarette company falsely led consumers to believe that its vapes were safer than cigarettes and contained less nicotine. However, just one pod of Juul contains as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes.”
Juul has now settled with 47 states and territories.
“Since our company-wide reset in the fall of 2019, underage use of JUUL products has declined by 95% based on the National Youth Tobacco Survey,” a Juul spokesman said in a statement.
“Now we are positioned to dedicate even greater focus on our path forward to maximize the value and impact of our product technology and scientific foundation,” the spokesman added. “Our priorities remain to secure authorization of our PMTAs based on the science and lead the category with innovation to accelerate our mission and advance tobacco harm reduction for over 31 million adult smokers in the U.S. and over 1 billion adult smokers worldwide.”