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Attorney general announces $8.8 million-plus for WNY to combat youth vaping


Fri, Jun 21st 2024 02:55 pm

Funds from $112.7 million settlement with JUUL; money set to help young people quit vaping, support anti-vaping programs 

Submitted by the Office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Western New York will receive over $8.8 million 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 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.

“JUUL knowingly ignited a nationwide public health crisis, luring young people in with flashy colors and flavors,” James said. “E-cigarettes are deeply addictive and have severe health impacts on our youth. My office’s historic settlement holds JUUL accountable for the harm they’ve caused our kids, and the $8.8 million that Western New York leaders will receive will help fight the youth vaping epidemic. I thank the local leaders who will use these funds for education, prevention, enforcement and research to ensure our kids are safe and healthy.”

The funds will be split between the Buffalo City School District, and counties and BOCES in Western New York:


√ Allegany County will receive $322,931.56

√ Cattaraugus County will receive $467,578.61

√ Chautauqua County will receive $804,688.01

√ Erie County will receive $3,311,394.60

√ Niagara County will receive $1,062,901.15

•School Districts/BOCES

√ Buffalo City School District will receive $504,879.27

√ Cattaraugus-Allegany-Erie-Wyoming BOCES will receive $269,781.45

√ Erie 1 BOCES will receive $1,068,780.83

√ Erie 2-Cattaraugus-Chautauqua BOCES will receive $563,121.77

√ Orleans-Niagara BOCES will receive $507,353.46

After JUUL launched in 2015, e-cigarette use among New York high school students skyrocketed. 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 U.S.

In November 2019, James sued JUUL for its deceptive and misleading marketing that glamorized vaping and targeted young people. In April 2023, 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.

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.

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 5% 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.

“Throughout my career, I’ve fought against underage tobacco use, which we know is carcinogenic,” Congressman Tim Kennedy said. “No amount of tobacco – even e-cigarettes – is safe, and we need to do all we can to keep these products out of the hands of our kids. Thank you to Attorney General James for prioritizing the health of our youth both here in New York and across the nation.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The dramatic increased use of e-cigarettes amongst teenagers is alarming because it has been well-documented how addictive they are, especially when used by children. This funding will help support education efforts on the dangers of these addictive products. Make no mistake about it: They are a threat to public health. Youth vaping is an epidemic and a growing concern throughout our state, including here in Erie County. I thank Attorney General James for her work in securing this funding, which will be used locally to further protect our youth from these health-harming products.”

Dr. Michael Capuana, Erie 1 BOCES district superintendent/CEO, said, “On behalf of the Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services and Western New York school community at large, we are deeply thankful to the Attorney General for her commitment to safeguarding the health and academic success of our youth. With our longstanding history and shared dedication of supporting student wellbeing, these funds can be used as part of a comprehensive set of supports to address the whole child, further creating resources and awareness about addiction and the implication it has on our Western New York students. Together, we are committed to cultivating a supportive and healthier environment for our students to thrive.”

Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tonja M. Williams said, “School-aged children who are exposed to vaping during adolescence may cause addiction and pose other serious health risks. I commend Attorney General James for holding JUUL accountable for marketing its harmful vaping products to underage children. The Buffalo Public Schools will use this more than $500,000 to help decrease vaping among young people and to continue to educate them about the dangers of vaping and the effects it has on their health.”

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