Attorney General Tong Calls for JUUL Vaping Settlement Funds to be Directed to Regional Behavioral Health Action Organizations(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong this week submitted testimony calling for funds received through the $438.5 million multistate vaping settlement with JUUL to be directed to Regional Behavioral Health Action Organizations (RBHAOs) to combat youth vaping and nicotine use.
His testimony, in support of House Bill No. 6914, An Act Concerning the Use of Funds in the Opioid and Tobacco Settlement Funds and Funds Received by the State as Part of Any Settlement Agreement with a Manufacturer of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Vapor Products, addresses safeguards and reporting requirements for both opioid and tobacco settlement funds.
Connecticut led 34 states and territories last year in brokering the settlement with JUUL, resolving a two-year bipartisan investigation into the company’s marketing and sales practices. Connecticut is due to receive approximately $16 million through the settlement, which is to be used for cessation, prevention, and mitigation.
RBHAOs are created in statute and funded primarily through federal block grant dollars administered by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“RBHAOs are responsible for providing a range of planning, education and advocacy initiatives related to mental health and substance use prevention, treatment and recovery, including addressing the youth vaping epidemic fueled by JUUL and others. RBHAOs are engaged in our local communities – building coalitions with prevention advocates, parents, youth, educators, healthcare providers and other community stakeholders and are well-positioned to use these funds so that they have the most impact,” Attorney General Tong states in his testimony.
"The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that 27% of youth in Connecticut are 30-day users of vaping products. The Regional Behavioral Health Action Organizations and the local prevention councils they fund have been on the front lines of the teen vaping epidemic in our schools and communities, working to implement the same strategies that reduced youth smoking decades ago. From implementing anti-vaping curricula, to educating parents to changing perceptions and behavior among users and enacting local ordinances to control marketing to kids – we have undertaken these efforts on a shoestring. The funds from the JUUL settlement will enable our organizations to implement a science-based, consistent, coordinated strategy, that integrates across communities and across the state. Vaping is a significant public health problem with lifelong consequences for our kids and young people and these JUUL settlement dollars represent a unique opportunity to address the vaping crisis in a holistic way,” said Pamela Mautte, Chair of the Connecticut Prevention Network.
Attorney General Tong’s testimony also supports updating the existing reporting requirements for opioid settlement funds to make clear that municipalities must comply with the same reporting requirements already in place for state-administered funds.
Over the past four years, Connecticut has led nationwide efforts to hold the entire addiction industry accountable for the opioid epidemic, securing more than $50 billion for treatment and prevention. Connecticut will receive over $600 million to save lives across our state. Public Act 22-48, passed last year, requires that funding support evidence-based treatment, prevention and recovery programs. The law established the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee comprised of health professionals, individuals with lived experience, and state and municipal leaders to ensure robust and informed public involvement, accountability and transparency in allocating and accounting for the opioid funds. The committee held its first meeting on March 13. That committee is required to produce an annual report detailing its expenditures. H.B. 6914 simply ensures that municipal spending is reported alongside the state accounting.
Click here for the full testimony.