WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — D.C. will receive $15.2 million as part of a settlement with e-cigarette giant JUUL Labs over accusations that the company promoted vaping among young people despite its health risks.
This was part of a $462 million six-state settlement. New York Attorney General Letitia James hosted a virtual news conference Wednesday. She was joined by D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb along with attorneys general in California, Illinois and Massachusetts. Colorado and New Mexico were also included in the settlement.
A few of the deal’s main stipulations were that the company cannot market to teens and children and must better secure its products and thoroughly check the age of those who buy products.
“One of my top priorities as the attorney general for the District of Columbia is making sure young people here in the nation’s capital grow up healthy,” Schwalb said during the conference.
D.C.’s attorney general said the historic settlement will achieve that goal by curbing the promotion of JUUL’s reportedly harmful e-cigarette product.
“When companies like JUUL prey on and manipulate the District’s residents — in particular our children — all in furtherance of profit, my office will use every legal tool available to hold them accountable,” Schwalb said.
Schwalb said that half of the juniors and seniors at one of D.C.’s largest high schools were addicted to the product. District officials viewed this as a major concern.
“JUUL knew all how dangerous and addictive its products were. It knew its online verification system was riddled with flaws that allowed kids of any age to purchase the products,” Schwalb said.
D.C. officials said the funds will be used in many ways — including helping people under 21 get past nicotine addiction. It will also be used to help fund prevention programs and research into health effects.
Stephanie Botsford of D.C. said she used a JUUL product for vaping before. She said she agrees with the settlement.
“I personally think they should ban those because… it’s like opening the gates to a possible addiction at a young age,” she said. “As a former consumer of e-cigarettes, you should not allow that for youngins.”
The company admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
“With this settlement, we are nearing total resolution of the company’s historical legal challenges and securing certainty for our future,” JUUL said in a statement. “We have now settled with 47 states and territories, providing over $1 billion to participating states, in addition to our global resolution of the U.S. private litigation.”
Henok Ayana also tried JUUL e-cigarettes and has seen problems with their use.
“I’ve seen friends personally that got affected from this,” he said.
Ayana said he questions whether the money will be used for education and research purposes.
“If they’re going to use this money for a good cause, then that’d be a good thing,” he said.