The money will be distributed to Nassau and Suffolk counties,...

The money will be distributed to Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as to the local BOCES to be dispensed to local schools. Credit: Johnny Milano

Long Island will receive $16.4 million in funding to prevent kids from vaping and to help them quit through its portion of a state settlement reached with the electric cigarette company Juul Labs last year, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday.

The money comes from the state’s $112 million share of the $462 million settlement reached with the e-cigarette maker and New York, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. New York’s lawsuit, filed in 2019, accused the company of marketing to teens with fruity and sweet flavors, misleading about nicotine content and claiming they were safer than cigarettes.

“They were lured by catchy marketing, enticing fruity flavors, flashy parties, and promises of being cool,” James said during a news conference at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. “They took a page out of the big tobacco playbook.”

Juul in a statement said it was "pleased to have reached settlements that resolve issues related to the company’s past."

The statement, which said the company has focused on combatting underage usage, noted that teen vaping has significantly fallen in recent years.

Tobacco vaping among high school students fell from 27.5% of those interviewed in 2019 to 10% in 2023, according to the most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey.

E-cigarettes, like traditional combustible cigarettes, contain addictive nicotine which can harm a developing brain, according to the American Lung Association.

The money will be distributed to Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as to the local BOCES to be dispensed to schools.

Of the Long Island funds, $2.5 million will go to Eastern Suffolk BOCES, $1.2 million to Western Suffolk BOCES, $5.2 million to Suffolk County, $3.2 million to Nassau BOCES and $4.3 million to Nassau County.

The Suffolk County money will in part go toward a law enforcement program dubbed “Operation Smoke Out” that cracks down on smoke shops that illegally sell vaping products to minors, said Suffolk County Executive Edward P. Romaine.

“This will give us funding to shut this nonsense down,” he said. “It’s not healthy, it’s not good and it’s not legal.”

Suffolk issued 34 violations so far this year for either selling flavored liquid nicotine, which is illegal, or for selling products to a minor, according to Romaine spokesman Mike Martino. That number was 63 in 2023, 64 in 2022 and 83 in 2021.

Representatives of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Western Suffolk BOCES, Nassau BOCES and Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman did not respond to requests for comment.

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