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$17.4 million awarded to Colorado organizations to curb youth vaping

More than $17 million from a settlement against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs will be distributed to schools and organizations across Colorado to help curb vaping among youth, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday.

The $17.4 million in funding – which comes from a nearly $32 million settlement Juul Labs agreed to make with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in April 2023 over marketing practices targeted at teens – will be distributed among 42 schools, agencies and nonprofit organizations, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday.

Juul Lab’s $31.7 million payment to Colorado was part of a larger $462 million settlement the e-cigarette maker paid to six states and the District of Columbia to resolve allegations that the company illegally marketed its electronic cigarettes to young people and misrepresented the health risks associated with vaping.

According to the state Department of Health and Environment’s 2021 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, an estimated 30% of high school students in Colorado have tried vaping, slightly more than the estimated 20.8% of students who have ever smoked a cigarette.

The programs, funded by a series of grants from the $17.4 million settlement, focus on youth vaping education, prevention and treatment, including mental and behavioral health services, according to the attorney general’s office.

“By investing in these organizations, we are taking a critical step to protect our youth from the dangers of vaping,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said in the press release. “This funding will enable communities to educate our young people about the risks, take preventative measures and get those affected by vaping the treatment they need.”

The grants were awarded through two programs: one for nonprofits and government agencies and another for school districts and charter schools in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education, the attorney general’s office said.

The Combatting Youth Vaping in Colorado grant awarded $6 million to nonprofits and government agencies, including:

  1. Services of La Raza. The team received $950,000 to develop a bilingual smoking cessation program for Latino youth and launch a youth-led, educationally focused prevention program.
  2. Colorado Boys and Girls ClubThe program received $855,979 to implement prevention programs and community engagement activities in 50 clubhouses across the state.
  3. Denver Department of Public Health and EnvironmentThe department received $541,158 to provide trauma-informed counseling, nicotine replacement therapy and community engagement with the support of a youth advisory council.
  4. Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and EducationThe center received $800,000 to “improve protective factors against substance abuse among adolescents” and train adults to build close bonds with adolescents in family, school and community settings.
  5. The UpRISE program of the University of Colorado/Colorado School of Public HealthThe program received $544,018 to expand a youth-led social justice movement on tobacco control, provide educational programs, build organizational partnerships, and engage a diverse youth action board.

The Colorado Department of Law is also working to award $11.4 million to school districts, charter schools and educational service providers over the next three years.

“We are pleased to award these grants to combat the youth vaping crisis by providing funding for education, prevention and treatment in our Colorado schools,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Susana Córdova. “Our goal is to give local educators the tools they need to address the health impacts of vaping on our youth.”

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