By Ariel Solomon
- JUUL has agreed to pay $462M to six U.S. states, including New York and California, for unlawfully marketing addictive vaping products to minors
- Black middle and high school students were among the least frequent tobacco users at 11.5%
States have accused JUUL, an e-cigarette maker, of marketing its products as less addictive than cigarettes while popularizing vaping amongst teens. As a result, the company has agreed to pay $462 Million to six U.S. states and Washington D.C., for unlawfully marketing its addictive products to minors. JUUL has settled with over 45 states for over $1 billion, yet has admitted to no wrongdoing.
Why This Matters: Use of tobacco products by teens is dangerous as it may impact brain development, behavioral and mental health changes, and ultimately addiction. According to the CDC, in 2022 nearly 25% of all middle and high school students reported ever having used a tobacco product, with current use (within a 30 day period) standing at 11.3%, or more than 3 million teens. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product, at 9.4%, or 2.55 million teens. Furthermore, 45,000 Black Americans die annually of smoking-related diseases.
While Black middle and high school students were among the least frequent users at 11.5% vs. 12.4% of their white teen counterparts, of those who did use tobacco products, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used. Notably, Black teens had higher rates of combustible tobacco product use than their peers at 5.7%.
E-cigarettes are a particularly dangerous contender because of their appeal amongst teens, who stated “a friend used them” as the most common reason for trying one. Unironically, the most common reason for continued use was “…feeling anxious, stressed, and depressed,” according to the CDC. While the prevalence of smoking is lower and starts later in life for Black Americans, they are less likely to successfully quit smoking than their white peers.
What’s Next: States included in the settlement are California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and New Mexico. JUUL must take remedial actions like having their products secured behind store counters, stringent ID checks, and producing less targeted advertisements. This will include the use of models over 35 in their promotional materials, going forward. Settlement funds are slated to support programs aimed at helping teens quit vaping.
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