AG James begins distribution of settlement funds from JUUL

$27.1 million goes to combat abuse of vape marketing to youth

Getting kids hooked on vape cost JUUL $112.7 million

June 12, 2024 Special from the Attorney General's Office
AG James. Photo courtesy of the Attorney General's Office
Share this:

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today distributed $27.1 million to New York City from a historic $462 million multistate settlement that she secured from JUUL Labs Inc. (JUUL) for its role in the youth vaping epidemic that led to a dangerous rise in underage e-cigarette use nationwide. New York state will receive a total of $112.7 million through this settlement, which Attorney General James will distribute to every county, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and the five largest cities in the state to support programs that will help reduce and prevent underage vaping.

The funds will be split between the city and the New York City School District, with $12,192,627.67 from the settlement going to the city and $14,972,656.67 going to the school district.

“JUUL created a nationwide public health crisis by sparking a wave of addiction among children,said Attorney General James.Young people are suffering because JUUL built its business by marketing addictive e-cigarettes to kids. Thanks to our efforts to hold JUUL accountable, New York City will receive over $27 million for valuable programs to fight back against the youth vaping epidemic. Our children’s health is on the line, and these funds will be used for education, prevention, enforcement, and research to keep our kids safe.”

After JUUL launched in 2015, e-cigarette use by New York City high school students increased three-fold from 8.1 percent in 2014 to 23.5 percent by 2018. By 2019, the proliferation of vaping led to a national outbreak of severe vaping-related illnesses, with more than 2,500 hospitalizations. In October 2019, a 17-year-old male from the Bronx died due to a vaping-related illness, making him the first reported vaping-related fatality in New York and the youngest vaping-related fatality in the United States. 

In November 2019, Attorney General James sued JUUL for its deceptive and misleading marketing that glamorized vaping and targeted young people. In April 2023, Attorney General James secured the largest multistate agreement with JUUL and its former directors and executives for their role in fueling the youth vaping epidemic. JUUL misled consumers about the nicotine content of its products, misrepresented the safety and therapeutic value of its products by stating that they were safer than cigarettes, and failed to prevent minors from purchasing its products in stores across the country.

A person vaping. Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP
A person vaping. Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP

The settlement funds will be used for evidence-based measures to combat underage vaping and e-cigarette addiction. Counties and BOCES must dedicate the settlement funds they receive to programs in five categories:

  • Public education campaigns to prevent e-cigarette use among young people

  • Community, school, and university-based anti-vaping programs

  • Vaping cessation services in communities, schools, and colleges

  • Enforcement of vaping laws and regulations

  • Public health research into e-cigarette use among young people and the effectiveness of anti-vaping programs

A vape store. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
A vape store. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

In addition to paying New York $112.7 million, the settlement required JUUL to make significant changes to its sales and marketing tactics, including:

  • Refraining from any marketing that targets youth, including using anyone under the age of 35 in promotional material or funding, operating youth education/prevention campaigns, or sponsoring school-related activities

  • Limiting the amount of retail and online purchases an individual can make

  • Performing regular retail compliance checks at five percent of New York’s retail stores that sell JUUL’s products for at least four years

  • Treating synthetic nicotine as nicotine

  • Refraining from providing free or nominally priced JUUL pods as samples to consumers

  • Excluding product placement in virtual reality systems

  • Increasing funding to a document depository by up to $5 million and adding millions of relevant documents to the depository to inform the public on how JUUL created a public health crisis.

“JUUL Labs has raked in billions of dollars while creating a public health crisis and putting thousands of teenagers on the path to addiction,said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Nicotine addiction among middle and high school youth is exploding, and this administration will not sit idly by as nicotine pushers continue to harm our youth. Today, we are taking millions of dollars from JUUL Labs and investing it directly into the community and in our youth through prevention, education, and enforcement efforts. I applaud Attorney General James for holding companies like JUUL Labs accountable for harming the health of our children. Together, we will continue to protect our young people, our families and our communities.”

Brad Hoylman-Sigal. Photo: Hans Pennink/AP
Brad Hoylman-Sigal. Photo: Hans Pennink/AP

“I am grateful for Attorney General James’ work took to hold JUUL accountable for knowingly targeting and selling to young people, and I am looking forward to the $27.1 million she will be providing to New York City to increase efforts to keep these dangerous products away from our kids,said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal. We must stay vigilant in the fight against big tobacco because the industry will stop at nothing to get our kids hooked on their products.” 

“JUUL and other e-cigarette companies have made billions through slick marketing, social media campaigns and countless fruity flavors designed to entice youth,said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal.Schools have been on the frontlines in the battle against the youth vaping epidemic, and I applaud Attorney General James for her steadfast effort to hold Big Tobacco accountable while securing a settlement that benefits our schools and their programs to combat underage vaping. Having passed many laws to protect young people from the harms of vaping over the years, I am thrilled to see that some of the money JUUL raked in over the years will now be re-invested in the communities it has harmed.” 

City Councilmember Gale Brewer. Photo: Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY
City Councilmember Gale Brewer.
Photo: Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“Smoking is addictive, and it kills, but for some reason, vaping seems safer when it’s absolutely not,” said New York City Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “By holding vape companies like JUUL to account and using the fines to fund anti-vaping educational campaigns aimed at teens in New York, Attorney General Letitia James is doing a service for us all.”

“JUUL preyed on a generation of kids, got them hooked on vaping, and set off a nationwide vaping epidemic,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “So I’m grateful to Attorney General James for leading the fight to hold JUUL accountable. The settlement funds will be critical to helping New Yorkers finally quit and curbing this public health hazard.”

“We are forever grateful to Attorney General James for her partnership and her tireless pursuit to hold JUUL accountable for their predatory behavior,” said Dorian Fuhrman and Meredith Berkman, Cofounders of Parents Against Vaping. “These funds secured by Attorney General James will go a long way to educate and inform New York children and families about the dangers of vaping and nicotine use, and help the countless New York youth who are addicted to vaping.”

Vape pens. Photo: Steven Senne/AP
Vape pens. Photo: Steven Senne/AP

“We applaud Attorney General James for her leadership in holding JUUL accountable for causing the youth vaping epidemic and her commitment to using JUUL settlement funds to reduce youth e-cigarette use,” said Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Over 18% of New York high school students use e-cigarettes. Effective use of the JUUL settlement funds can help to end this youth addiction crisis and protect the health of New York kids.”

The settlement was led by Senior Advisor and Special Counsel M. Umair Khan; Assistant Attorneys General Hailey DeKraker and Noah Popp; and Healthcare Deputy Bureau Chief Leslieann Cachola. The settlement was also brought about by the work of Assistant Attorneys General Sarah Millings, Michael Reisman, and Abigail Kasowitz; Consumer Frauds Bureau Chief Jane Azia; Senior Assistant Solicitor General Dennis Fan, Deputy Solicitor General Judith Vale; Special Assistant Attorney General Emily Auletta; former Deputy Director of Research and Analytics Megan Thorsfeldt and Data Scientist Jasmine McAllister; Chief Scientist Jodi Feld, Information Technology Manager Corey Nugent, Information Technology Specialists Hewson Chen and Paige Podolny; E-Discovery Document Review Manager Carol Cheng; Civil Recoveries Section Chief Martin Mooney; and former Special Counsel Morenike Fajana, former Healthcare Bureau Chief Lisa Landau, and former Section Chief Amy Schallop. The Division for Social Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux, and the Division for Economic Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo. Both the Division for Economic Justice and the Division for Social Justice are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment