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To settle state probes into teen vaping, Juul will pay nearly $440 million

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

E-cigarette maker Juul has agreed to pay out $440 million. This after an investigation found that the company illegally targeted children with an advertising campaign launched about seven years ago. Here's NPR's consumer health correspondent Yuki Noguchi.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Juul is now paying for the popularity it garnered through its advertising on social media like TikTok and Twitter. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong made that clear in announcing the settlement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAM TONG: They used young and trendy looking models. Everything was sleek and technology focused. And it was clear they made a product that could be easily concealed when used by kids.

NOGUCHI: The $440 million settlement Juul agreed to pay will fund anti-smoking programs. Meredith Berkman co-founded Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes. She thinks the move is a signal to the many other companies that followed Juul into the market.

MEREDITH BERKMAN: I think it sends a significant message to the industry that predatory behavior, the targeting of teens, is unacceptable. And there will be consequences.

NOGUCHI: But, Berkman says, the money will not undo the kinds of health effects, like addiction and lung damage, that have stemmed from the sharp increase in vaping among young people.

BERKMAN: The health care costs for Juul's actions and what has happened since will be enormous. I mean, it will unfold for decades to come.

NOGUCHI: Berkman says she hopes Juul will be forced to pull its products from shelves. The Food and Drug Administration tried to do so earlier this year before Juul petitioned a court to delay its decision. The FDA is now reviewing the company's safety data again to decide whether they can stay on the market.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE SONG, "RAW LIFE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Science Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. She started covering consumer health in the midst of the pandemic, reporting on everything from vaccination and racial inequities in access to health, to cancer care, obesity and mental health.