Wisconsin to receive more than $14M in Juul settlement

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- A loss for e-cigarette maker Juul is being seen as a big gain for young people. 

A two-year bipartisan investigation ended Tuesday, with Juul ordered to split a $438 million settlement between dozens of states, including Wisconsin.

Harsh words were spoken about what Juul did -- the Wisconsin Department of Health Services secretary calling the company's marketing manipulative and harmful, saying it exposed middle and high schoolers to the dangers of nicotine and addiction. But Juul is not out of business, despite the investigation's outcome.

The Juul settlement comes with strict guidelines, including refraining from youth marketing. No cartoons in their ads, no paid influencers and no social media advertising unless the testimonial is from someone over age 35.

Once a dominant player in the vaping industry, Juul products now make up just a small section of the smoke shop on S. 27th Street. The entire wall behind them is filled with other brands selling their own flavored varieties. 

With so many companies making flavored e-cigarettes, Danny Munoz wonders why Juul is the only one on the hook.

"Kind of sucks for them. Oh there's different brands, different flavors. They all have, the flavors never stopped," said Munoz.

After criticism arose in 2019 that young smokers were looking at tobacco like candy, Juul pulled most flavors, but not menthols. Opponents say menthols need to go too.

"So many kids who were using other flavors simply moved, and today more kids have become addicted to the menthol flavored products that are still on the market. As long as Juul is allowed to continue to market menthol flavored e-cigarettes, our kids will remain at-risk," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

According to the American Lung Association, one in four high school students in 2019 said they tried e-cigarettes. That dropped during Covid, but there's concern the number could rise, and that's what they're trying to avoid.

"It seems that high schoolers and middle schoolers are switching to different products now too, so like Puff Bar is the number one e-cigarette product among kids now, so Juul has kind of faded into the background on that regard," said Thomas Carr, national director of policy for the American Lung Association.

Wisconsin will receive over $14 million from the settlement. 

Attorney General Josh Kaul says the agreement brings accountability for Juul's conduct. The American Lung Association hopes the money will be used for vaping prevention efforts.

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