Health & Science

Harris County settles lawsuit against JUUL Labs, accuses vaping company of deceptive marketing toward children

The $20 million settlement with JUUL is the second largest for a local government nationwide.


FILE: 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 recently settled a lawsuit against the company.

Harris County has settled a lawsuit against e-cigarette company JUUL Labs and will receive a $20 million settlement.

The county was the first governmental entity in Texas to file suit against JUUL in 2021. Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said the county accused JUUL of marketing its vaping products to minors.

"We're extremely proud to be able to lead as the largest county in the state, the third largest in the country," he said. "I think it's important that we lead on public health issues."

JUUL is known for delivering popular electronic nicotine with a variety of different flavors for vaping. Their JUUL e-cigarette is made using a heating element to convert a nicotine solution into an aerosol that can be inhaled by the user.

The local settlement is part of a larger global settlement with JUUL Labs. The settlement total in Texas is said to be $42.8 million. Menefee said the case was always about reducing youth nicotine addiction in the community.

"The dollars that are coming in the door will hopefully be used to mitigate the impact of our youth with nicotine addiction," he said. "We're gonna stand in the gap and we're gonna protect those folks."

In a study released by the CDC last year, nearly half of students surveyed used e-cigarettes on 20 or more of the past 30 days. Hospital admission statistics from UT Health suggest 1 in 5 kids in Houston have tried vaping. In the past, many websites have also been reported to sell e-cigarettes without requiring any age documentation.

"What I'm hoping is that there's a nationwide effort to take measures that we're gonna put blocks in between our youth and harmful products," Menefee said. "Including nicotine and lace products."

Harris County Commissioners will be deciding how to use the funds from the settlement.

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