Monday, January 30, 2023

IL district joins JUUL Labs lawsuit


The need for schools to devote resources to educate and discipline students about e-cigarettes has produced a number of lawsuits against JUUL Labs, the manufacturer of a popular vaping brand, including one joined by Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 in Illinois, in an effort to recoup some of those costs, The Times reports.

“Vaping, like smoking cigarettes, is dangerous and unhealthy, especially for adolescents and young adults,” the site quoted Superintendent Lane Abrell as saying. “The amount of district resources, time and money involved in discipline and education for these situations would be better spent on teaching and learning.”

A similar effort against JUUL Labs was joined last month by four Delaware school districts—Indian River, Cape Henlopen, Red Clay, and Colonial—but attorneys for the plaintiffs are holding that complaint until additional districts join.

“If this thing settles and there’s money available, you want to be a party to that,” a local newspaper quoted John Marinucci, executive director of the Delaware School Board Association, as saying about the action. “If it settles and there is no money, there’s really no cost to the districts. And the districts have expended dollars, on cessation and anti-vaping campaigns and trying to help students understand the effects.”

The situation is very similar in the Plainfield case, where legal fees are contingent upon the award made in the case or in a settlement agreement. It will cost SD 202 nothing if no money is awarded.

The use of e-cigarettes among high school, and even some middle school, students has been widely reported and surveyed, with some reports suggesting e-cigarette use is on the decline. In January, the FDA tried to reduce adolescent use by ordering e-cigarette manufacturers to stop adding fruity or sweet flavors to their products. This left JUUL users with menthol and one or two other choices, which are not as appealing to teenagers.

But according to the Truth Initiative, kids are switching from the menthol-tasting JUUL pods to disposable smoking products that are not restricted in terms of the flavors they can include.

A student report out of Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas earlier this month provides an example of just what the Truth Initiative and these many lawsuits are dealing with, despite a move by the FDA this summer, which banned the disposable products. The ban closed a “loophole” created in January, when the administration banned flavors for e-cigarettes but didn’t include disposables.

The summertime action hasn’t stopped knock-offs from being sold at gas stations and smoke shops, though, where kids can pick them up pretty cheap, writes Kelly Murphy in The Harbinger student newspaper.

For a single purchase, kids can get disposables for under $10, compared to JUUL products, which can run $45 each, plus an additional $10 for two pods. Disposables are also a little more convenient in that they don’t need to be recharged and can just be thrown away, Ms Murphy noted.

“I’ve had [knock offs,] and they still taste good,” she quoted one student as saying about obtaining the “illegal for under-21” products. “There are no issues with the taste, it’s more just the inconsistency of whether you’ll get buzzed or not. Basically how many hits you get per [bar].”

At the Kansas high school, resources being sucked away by vaping include the school resource officer, who issues actual citations for underage tobacco possession upon a student’s second offense, and the production of anti-vaping educational resources, such as a four-hour video students can watch in order to avoid one day of a two-day in-school suspension for the first offense.

The local school systems of Harford County and Cecil County, Maryland, have also joined a class-action lawsuit, including more than 100 plaintiffs who are suing JUUL Labs in the Northern Division of the United States District Court in California, according to a report in The Herald-Mail.
Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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