SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Juul Labs, the maker of electronic cigarettes, just agreed to pay nearly $440 million to 33 states, in a lawsuit tied to accusations of the company’s role in underage, teen vaping. But New Mexico isn’t part of that settlement.

Turns out, New Mexico remains in the middle of another lawsuit with Juul. So what does the latest national news means for the state?

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says the national settlement bodes well for New Mexico. “The national settlement is positive,” he told KRQE News 13. “Juul must be held accountable.”

The latest, big multistate settlement comes after the states involved say Juul used parties, product giveaways, and social media ads to market e-cigarettes to children. Juul makes no admission of guilt but will pay out hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition to the recent payout, Juul has settled disputes with several other states in the past.

There’s is no indication when New Mexico’s lawsuit could come to a conclusion. Attorney General Hector Balderas filed the state’s claim against Juul in 2020. The lawsuit, in part, alleges that the e-cigarette company “created an epidemic of nicotine addiction among young people.”

“Vaping companies should not be targeting New Mexican children with an addictive product that could compromise their health and safety,” Balderas said in a press release when the suit was filed. “My office will continue to fight large companies who harm our families and risk the lives of our future generation.”

New Mexico’s allegations against Juul echo the fight against “Big Tobacco.” In the 1990s, several states came together to take on the tobacco industry and the public health issues related to smoking. Research had shown, as early as the 1960s, that smoking cigarettes could cause cancer. That, combined with a notable increase in smoking among youth led dozens of states to take large cigarette companies to court. Among other issue, the states generally wanted the cigarette industry to reduce the impact of advertising on kids.

Finally, in 1998, the cigarette companies settled with the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. The value of payouts is essentially infinite, as the companies are required to make yearly payments to 46 states in perpetuity. In the first 20 years of the settlement, the cigarette manufacturers paid out more than $126 billion, according to the Public Health Law Center.

Now, in the ongoing lawsuit between Juul and New Mexico, the state has argued that Juul founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees “hoped their project would take tobacco back to being a luxury good.” New Mexico’s lawyers allege that Bowen and Monsees studied cigarette advertising and historical documents to create youth-targeted products. They were “able to review literature on manipulating nicotine pH to maximize its delivery in a youth-friendly vapor,” the legal complaint alleges. The complaint also implicates Altria, the parent company of a large cigarette manufacturer, which invested in Juul.

Juul’s vaping products began appearing in New Mexico in 2015. And “in a span of only five years, JLI (Juul Laboratories Inc.) has almost single handedly reversed decades of progress made in curbing adolescent and teenage use of nicotine,” the complaint says.