North Carolina is the first among 13 states and the District of Columbia to reach a settlement with vape-maker Juul Labs for what has been described as the company’s role in triggering a youth vaping epidemic and rolling back decades of progress on teen nicotine usage. In announcing the settlement, state Attorney General Josh Stein lambasted the company saying that “for years, Juul targeted young people, including teens, with its highly addictive e-cigarette. It lit the spark and fanned the flames of a vaping epidemic among our children – one that you can see in any high school in North Carolina.”
As part of the settlement, Juul is prohibited from taking part in most social media-based advertising avenues and cannot place any outdoor advertising near schools, nor can it sponsor sporting events or concerts. It must also pay the state $40 million. Stein says that the money will be used to fund anti-vaping programs to help students quit as well as research into the ongoing health effects of vaping.
The settlement is just the latest step in the fall from glory for a company that appears to have become exactly what it set out to destroy. In a new book titled “Big Vape: The Incendiary Rise of Juul,” author Jamie Ducharme tells the story of a company that might have started out with good intentions but suffered from leaders who appeared to have become caught up in their own success. Warning after warning from those around them went ignored until “they let history repeat itself, walking the path laid by Big Tobacco as they pushed out flashy advertisements, sent their representatives into schools, and, finally, accepted billions of dollars from the largest cigarette maker in the country,” writes Ducharme.
The company’s attempts to infiltrate the nation’s schools were apparent even to the children they were targeting. In one such story, Ducharme tells the story of a ninth grader who sat through a presentation meant to warn children against smoking and vaping – except when it came to the Juul device. At the end of the presentation, the student and a friend approached the presenter with a question. They had a friend that was addicted to nicotine, wanted to help, and asked what they could do. Assuming that the kids were talking about smoking, the presenter showed them a Juul and how it worked and suggested their friend give it a try. The problem was that the kids’ friend had a vaping addiction.