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State Distributes JUUL Settlement Funds to the Finger Lakes

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Standing in Rochester on Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced more than $7.4 million for the Finger Lakes region from the $462 million multistate settlement the state 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.

“JUUL preyed on young people across our state by putting addictive products into their hands and convincing them that they were harmless,” said Attorney General James. “Their actions put a generation of children at risk, fueling physical and mental health problems among young New Yorkers. As a result of my office’s historic settlement with JUUL, leaders in the Finger Lakes region will now have over $7.4 million to invest in anti-vaping efforts to curb the youth vaping epidemic.”

The funds will be split between the Rochester City School District, and counties and BOCES in the Finger Lakes region:

Counties

  • Genesee County will receive $366,507.72
  • Livingston County will receive $345,540.78
  • Monroe County will receive $2,293,677.54
  • Ontario County will receive $530,263.71
  • Orleans County will receive $275,118.86
  • Seneca County will receive $236,510.67
  • Wayne County will receive $481,411.55
  • Yates County will receive $225,004.21

School Districts / BOCES

  • Rochester City School District will receive $412,822.79
  • Genesee Valley BOCES will receive $330,959.99
  • Monroe 1 BOCES will receive $693,247.82
  • Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES will receive $492,990.85
  • Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES will receive $551,361.10

“As the District Superintendent for the Wayne-Finger Lakes Region, the 25 W-FL Superintendents and I stand united in supporting public health initiatives that protect and educate our children to be able to live a healthy life; The children of today are the future of tomorrow and they need our advocacy, protection, and support against the known and unknown serious health risks caused by harmful vape substances,” said Lynne Rutnik, Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES Superintendent. “Vaping has become too easy to access for our youth. Vaping has the very real potential to cause a serious health crisis for our communities if protections and policies are not immediately put into place. The time is now to take action to keep vaping out of the hands of our youth.”

Kate Ott, Ontario County Public Health Director said, “Protecting children’s lungs and preventing nicotine addiction are vitally important. When kids start vaping, they are at risk of becoming life-long users, particularly if they vape nicotine. Research indicates they are also more likely to go on to smoke tobacco products as adults. Public Health focuses on prevention. Vape chemicals damage the airway and smoking causes heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. Settlement funds will be used to work within the Ontario County community to innovate and develop interventions to prevent kids from starting a habit that could affect their health now and for the rest of their lives. A big thank you to AG James for her efforts to improve public health.”

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 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.

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 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.

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