New York Daily News: ALBANY, By Denis Slattery — Electronic cigarette giant JUUL will pay New York and five other states $462 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company targeted teens and misled users about the dangers of vaping, Attorney General Letitia James announced on Wednesday.
New York is set to receive $112.7 million as part of the agreement, one of nearly a dozen similar suits accusing the company of creating a public health crisis as teen vaping rates soared in recent years.
The money will be used to support underage smoking abatement programs across the state.
“JUUL lit a nationwide public health crisis by putting addictive products in the hands of minors and convincing them that it’s harmless — today they are paying the price for the harm they caused,” James said. “Too many young New Yorkers are struggling to quit vaping and there is no doubt that JUUL played a central role in the nationwide vaping epidemic.”
James filed a lawsuit in 2019 accusing the popular vaping company of engaging in deceptive marketing practices, targeting minors and alleging the e-cig manufacturer misled smokers about the nicotine content and safety of its products.
The suit alleged that JUUL’s advertising was specifically aimed at enticing teens. Ads featuring bright, colorful images of attractive young models appealed to underage youth, James argued.
JUUL also engaged in direct outreach to high school students, including in at least one city New York City school, where a representative falsely told students that its products were safer than cigarettes.
Following the company’s launch in 2017, e-cigarette use in New York City high schools increased three-fold from 8.1 percent in 2014 to 23.5 percent by 2018 and vaping among teens increased nationwide, James noted.
More than 1 in 5 high school students reported vaping in 2020, according to the State Department of Health.
New York banned flavored vaping products in 2020 in an effort to reduce teen smoking and JUUL has faced legal action from states across the country for its marketing tactics.
The settlement will see funds split among New York, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico as well as the District of Columbia.
Additionally, the company must refrain from any marketing that directly or indirectly targets youth, including using anyone under the age of 35 in promotional materials.
JUUL is also barred from funding or operating youth education and prevention campaigns and must limit the amount of retail and online sale purchases users can make.
The company cannot provide free samples of its products and must perform compliance checks at 5% of New York’s retail stores that sell JUUL’s products for at least four years, according to James’ office.
James’ announcement comes months after a separate $440 million settlement following a two-year investigation by 33 states into the marketing of the company’s vaping products and advertising practices.
That investigation similarly found the company intentionally targeted underage users with launch parties, product giveaways and ads, and social media posts using young models.
On Monday, West Virginia announced a $7.9 million settlement with the company for the same marketing tactics.
A Juul spokesman noted that the company has now settled lawsuits brought by 47 states and territories and has provided over $1 billion to participating states. They also said that since a 2019 “company-wide reset” underage use of JUUL products has declined by 95 percent, based on information from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
“With this settlement, we are nearing total resolution of the company’s historical legal challenges and securing certainty for our future,” the spokesman said. ”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.”
Top Feature Photo: A JUUL electronic cigarette sign hangs in the front window of a bodega convenience store in New York City on Saturday, June 25, 2022 – Ted Shaffrey/AP