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Oklahoma to receive $8.9 from JUUL in teen vaping settlement

U.S. teens' use of e-cigarettes has doubled since 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Tony Dejak
U.S. teens' use of e-cigarettes has doubled since 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Oklahoma is set to receive $8.9 million from an electronic cigarette company after a multi-state investigation found that the manufacturer had "relentlessly marketed to underage users."

The investigation follows the FDA's attempt to ban all JUUL e-cigarettes from the market this summer.

The $8.9 million comes from a $438.5 million agreement between JUUL Labs and 34 states that resolves a two-year probe into the e-cigarette manufacturer's marketing and sales practices.

The states' investigation revealed that JUUL rose to the dominate player in the vaping market by "willfully engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to youth, even though its e-cigarettes are both illegal for youth to purchase and unhealthy for youth to use."

Attorney General John O'Connor said e-cigarette company "relentlessly marketed" to underage users with launch parties, advertisements using young and trendy-looking models, social media posts, and with free samples.

“I am pleased to work alongside other attorneys general in holding JUUL accountable for its irresponsible marketing efforts that pushed Oklahoma kids toward nicotine and addiction,” O’Connor said. “JUUL has put countless Oklahoman minors at risk, and as attorney general I will fight to prevent another generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.”

According to the attorney's office, JUUL manipulated the chemical composition of its product to make the vapor less harsh on the throats of the young and inexperienced users. Officials said the company also relied on age verification techniques that it knew were ineffective.

Investigations further revealed that JUUL’s original packaging was misleading in that it did not clearly disclose that it contained nicotine and implied that it contained a lower concentration of nicotine than it actually did.

As part of the settlement, JUUL has agreed to refrain from marketing to youth, depicting people under 35-years-old in marketing, using cartoons, paying for product placement, selling flavors not FDA-approved, allowing access to websites without age verification, misleading representations about nicotine content, and advertising on social media, billboards, and public transportation.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.