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New paper makes recommendations for a national settlement agreement with JUUL to include a youth prevention campaign

What should a national settlement agreement with JUUL look like?

If a national settlement results from states pursuing lawsuits against JUUL, the agreement should include significant funding for a centralized national prevention program to combat the youth e-cigarette epidemic, according to recommendations in a new Public Health Law Center paper.

The report — “Roadmap to a National Settlement Agreement: How the Tobacco MSA Helps Frame a Juul Settlement” — draws from successes and lessons from the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) to make recommendations about a potential national settlement between state attorneys general and the makers of the popular e-cigarette JUUL. The landmark 1998 agreement between the major tobacco companies, 46 U.S. states, D.C. and five U.S. territories settled the state lawsuits that sought billions of dollars in costs associated with treating smoking-related illnesses and transformed tobacco control.

In addition to a national prevention program, the Public Health Law Center recommends dedicating funding to develop clinically approved vaping cessation products, ensuring payments are directed to mitigating harm caused by JUUL and vaping, and guaranteeing there are consequences for targeted youth marketing, among other priorities for a potential settlement.

Gavel and books

Prevention lessons from the Master Settlement Agreement

The MSA set a public health goal of reducing U.S. smoking rates by restricting the industry’s marketing to youth and funded Truth Initiative (previously named the American Legacy Foundation) to create and deliver a national tobacco prevention campaign called truth.

The Public Health Law Center identifies the creation of Truth Initiative as a major success of the MSA and highlights the role Truth Initiative could play in a national settlement. The Public Health Law Center writes, “…a Juul settlement could leverage Truth Initiative’s 20-year history of monitoring youth usage and researching effective prevention and cessation techniques to distribute essential educational tools to schools, youth, and families.”

The Public Health Law Center suggests that a national program could build on truth to develop cost-effective and efficient programming dedicated to vaping prevention, denormalizing JUUL and e-cigarette use, and counter-marketing and education campaigns.

Counter-marketing and education campaigns will be a key part of a vaping prevention program, according to the paper, which also recommends that the counter-marketing campaign should have a broader focus than just JUUL. JUUL’s popularity with youth inspired copy-cat products and newer products like the disposable e-cigarette Puff Bar that has recently skyrocketed in popularity. Counter-marketing efforts should acknowledge that JUUL is one segment of a constantly evolving larger market for e-cigarette products.

Disclosing internal JUUL documents

The Public Health Law Center also recommends that a JUUL settlement should make JUUL Labs’ internal documents public and catalogued, stored, and administered as part of the existing Truth Initiative Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California San Francisco.  

The tobacco MSA made public millions of internal industry documents that revealed how the tobacco industry denied the health risks of their products while enhancing their addictiveness. Because the marketing tactics and deception that these documents revealed were critical to combatting the tobacco epidemic, JUUL’s internal documents could similarly offer invaluable resources to counter-marketing campaigns that raise public awareness of JUUL’s misconduct. The settlement could build on infrastructure that is already in place from the MSA as part of the existing Truth Initiative Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California San Francisco.  

The Public Health Law Center recommends that all appropriate stakeholders – including states, territories, and Native American tribes, who were excluded from MSA negotiations in the original tobacco settlement – have a seat at the table during settlement.