Why Maine Township District 207 is getting a $44,904 payout from Big Tobacco firm

Maine Township High School District 207 will receive a five-figure payout from a leading tobacco company as part of a nationwide, $168 million settlement over teen vaping.

The Park Ridge-based district will get $44,904 from the Altria Group, the former chief investor in Juul Labs.

The school board approved the settlement Monday night. A lump-sum payment is expected by the middle of next year, documents indicate.

District 207 is among about 1,500 public school districts that took on Virginia-based Altria - formerly known as Phillip Morris Companies - and San Francisco-based Juul in 2021 in the class-action lawsuit.

Among the other plaintiffs is Naperville-based Indian Prairie Unit School District 204, which recently announced it will receive $248,914 through the settlement.

The plaintiffs alleged Altria helped fuel a national health crisis by targeting teen customers. Student use of e-cigarettes by students caused District 207 to spend money "in the form of staff time, disciplinary proceedings and other costs," district documents claim.

In an email Tuesday, District 207 Superintendent Ken Wallace blasted Altria and Juul for their practices.

"Altria knowingly targeted young people in its recent efforts with vaping, and the damage of those efforts is still here and will be long-lasting," Wallace said. "What's important in this is that companies that target our students to profit from knowingly harmful practices, like what has occurred with the Juul vaping phenomenon, can and will be held accountable."

Before Monday's vote, District 207 board member Teri Collins said she'd like to see the settlement cash go to fund drug- and alcohol-prevention clubs and programs at the schools rather than just going into a general account. Board President Carla Owen agreed, and Wallace supported the idea.

In addition to schools, dozens of regional educational offices, counties and cities and a county health agency will benefit from the settlement, District 204 documents indicate.

Illinois, five other states and Washington, D.C., reached a separate $462 million settlement with Juul Labs earlier this year. Some Illinois school districts, including District 207 and District 204, are sharing in that settlement as well.

District 207's share of the first settlement was $149,115, officials said.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered Juul to pull its electronic cigarettes from the market to prevent teen vaping.

Also last year, Altria announced plans to split from Juul and resume its own e-cigarette production.

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District 204 to get more than $240,000 from national vaping settlement

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