Harris County

Harris County settles lawsuit with vaping products company

Harris County will get $7 million from the company that is an investor in Juul, a separate company that produces vape products. Last year the county settled a $20 million lawsuit against Juul.

Box for a JUUL, which is one of the most popular vape pens in the country, located at The Vapor Lair on Westheimer Rd. Taken on September 10, 2019.
Lucio Vasquez/Houston Public Media
Box for a JUUL, which is one of the most popular vape pens in the country, located at The Vapor Lair on Westheimer Rd. Taken on September 10, 2019.

Harris County has settled another lawsuit related to accusations that vape companies have used marketing targeted at young Houston-area customers.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee announced the latest settlement with Altria Group Inc. on Wednesday. Harris County will get $7 million from the company that is an investor in Juul, a separate company that produces vape products.

The settlement comes after a similar one earlier this year with Juul. Harris County received $20 million from the company after accusing it of producing fruit-flavored vape cartridges popular with younger users.

"We're not going to sit back idly while companies come in and try to push harmful products on our kids," Menefee said. "Our message to these companies is, we're not going to sit back."

Harris County was the first governmental entity in Texas to file lawsuits against Altria, Juul and Phillip Morris USA in 2021. Since then, others have filed similar lawsuits. Earlier this year, Altria announced resolutions to at least 6,000 JUUL-related state and federal cases for $235 million.

Vaping involves using a heating element to convert a solution containing nicotine into a vapor that can be inhaled. Because of the nicotine, vaping is addictive. Fruit-flavored vapes have been attractive to younger users and companies have produced hundreds of different combinations.

"The goal here is to change corporate behavior," Menefee said. "Corporations should be good partners of the communities in which they have customers, not attempting to get kids hooked on nicotine products."

In 2022, The Food and Drug Administration revoked the company's authorization to produce vape products, although JUUL has appealed the ruling and is still able to sell its product.

Harris County will use the $27 million in settlement money for its general fund and Harris County Commissioners court will decide how to spend it.