Programs to combat the vaping crisis among youth in Colorado receive millions in new funding through the settlement with Juul
Programs to combat the vaping crisis among youth in Colorado receive millions in new funding through the settlement with Juul

Dozens of schools, government agencies and nonprofits are receiving new funding to combat the vaping crisis among youth. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Tuesday the distribution of more than $17 million to 42 groups.

The money comes from a nearly $32 million settlement with e-cigarette manufacturer Juul and is part of a nationwide agreement, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office.

In 2020, the state sued Juul over its marketing practices, alleging that the company advertised directly to young people and misrepresented the health risks of its products. The money will go to programs focused on education, prevention and treatment of e-cigarette use among youth, which may include mental and behavioral health services.

“By investing in these organizations, we are taking a critical step to protect our youth from the dangers of vaping. This funding will enable communities to educate our young people about the risks, take preventative measures and provide important treatment to those affected,” Weiser said in the press release. “Together, we can create a healthier future for our children and help them avoid vaping in the first place.”

The funds were awarded through two programs: one for nonprofits and government agencies and another for local educational institutions in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education.

Six million dollars comes from the Colorado Department of Law’s grant to combat youth vaping in Colorado. The agency received 31 grant applications with a total value of more than $18 million.

According to the press release, the Attorney General’s Office said the awards will go to a dozen programs:

  • 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Diversion Lighthouse Program, $224,010 –
    • This program is designed to provide vaping education and prevention to youth in Mesa County and reach underserved rural communities with evidence-based curriculum and community support.
  • Boys & Girls Club of Colorado, Inc., $855,979 –
    • This initiative aims to prevent substance abuse among youth through evidence-based programs, community engagement, and peer-led activities in 50 clubhouses across the state.
  • Broomfield Public Health and Environment, $202,184 –
    • The team provides nicotine replacement therapies and peer support to help young people quit vaping, with a focus on LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, $541,158 (pending) –
    • The program addresses youth vaping and offers trauma-informed counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, and community engagement with the support of a youth advisory board.
  • Mountain Youth, $500,000 –
    • The project will address the issue of vaping among youth in the Eagle River Valley by providing prevention education, media campaigns, cessation programs and youth-led initiatives.
  • Jefferson County Public Health, $400,000 –
    • As part of a joint project, youth action groups and partners from the community are engaged to provide young people with information and smoking cessation programs.
  • Delta, Montrose and Ouray Partners, $297,161 –
    • Mentors support middle and high school students with behavioral problems through school-based programs that focus on prevention education and personal development.
  • Partners for Youth, $335,487 –
    • This initiative supports youth by connecting them with trusted adults, engaging them in youth action councils, and preventing substance abuse through positive developmental activities.
  • Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education, $800,000 –
    • The program strengthens protective factors against substance abuse among adolescents and trains adults to build close bonds with adolescents in family, school and community environments.
  • Servicios de La Raza, 950,000 USD –
    • The organization runs a bilingual smoking cessation program for Latino youth and will also launch a youth-led prevention campaign with educational opportunities.
  • University of Colorado/Colorado School of Public Health, UpRISE, $544,018 –
    • This initiative aims to grow a youth-led social justice movement to curb tobacco use by providing educational programs, building partnerships with organizations, and engaging a diverse youth action body.
  • Youth Healthcare Alliance, $350,000 –
    • School-based health centers will collaborate on an alternative disciplinary model that addresses youth vaping in the context of understanding and responding to behavioral health needs.

The department is also working with the state Department of Education to award more than $11 million to local education groups over the next three years.

Forty school districts, charter schools, and BOCES applied for the Vaping Education Prevention Grant for programs beginning in the fall 2024 semester, with 30 providers receiving the following amounts for the first year:

AdamsArapahoe 28JBoats for sale 140,267 USD
Alamosa RE 11J $244,968
Atlas preparation 85,000 US dollars
AXL Academy 238,000 US dollars
Bennett29J $218,547
Center 26JT Consolidated School District 198,098 USD
Chavez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy 46,940 USD
Colorado Military Academy 117,471 USD
District 49 126,961 USD
Dolores County RE2 45,681 USD
Expedition tour through downtown Denver 78,000 US dollars
DSST schools 114,000 US dollars
Eagle County RE50 $213,353
Elizabeth School District 130,217 USD
Fountain 8 131,009 USD
Gunnison RE-1J 74,534 USD
Harrisons 2 $253,405
Lake County $87,543
Manco $54,300
Mapleton 36,681 USD
Montrose County RE 1J 100,000 US dollars
New Legacy Charter 71,624 USD
North Park R-1 187,545 USD
Pueblo County 70 $127,657
San Luis Valley BOCES $273,870
Sierra Grande R-30 100,985 USD
Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center 36,181 USD
Steamboat Springs RE-2 125,635 USD
Strasbourg 31J 91,500 USD
summit 50,000 US dollars

“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,” Colorado Education Commissioner Susana Córdova said in the press release. “Our goal is to give local educators the tools they need to address the health impacts of vaping on our youth.”

Both grants are part of what the Attorney General’s office calls a “comprehensive, multi-pronged approach” to address the immediate and long-term health consequences of youth vaping. Last month, Weiser announced a $20 million initiative to strengthen school-community partnerships and support youth mental health and well-being across the state. Applications for this grant opportunity will open in fall 2024 and close in early 2025.

About the settlement

In 2020, the state sued Juul over its marketing practices. The investigation found that the company had marketed directly to young people and misrepresented the health risks of its products.

Colorado was the state with the highest per capita number of teens smoking e-cigarettes when the state filed the lawsuit. According to state data from 2021, one in six Colorado teens reported vaping in the past month, with the number dropping even further in the most recent data from 2023.

But the influence of the Juul generation is also affecting young people who are now coming of age. Data from the state Department of Health shows that the number of e-cigarette users in Colorado is rising, driven by a sharp increase among college-age young adults, those between 18 and 24.

During its investigation, the state found that the company targeted “cool kids” in ads and social media campaigns. It hired “brand ambassadors” to hand out free samples to young people at convenience stores in the state. It hired social media influencers to promote the products and introduce young people to e-cigarettes.

As a result, vaping has spread across the country and “Juuling” has become a ubiquitous expression and habit for many young people, Weiser said when the settlement was announced.

Social media, including Instagram or YouTube, became important platforms for the message. Weiser said the company was “very conscious of the virality of social media and the norms of social media. Juul identified influences that young people would pay attention to and established what I would call negative social norms. Juul or Juuling is cool. That was the norm.”

Under the agreement, Juul is prohibited from using these marketing tactics in the future.

By Everly