School districts across the country have filed lawsuits against Juul Labs, a leading e-cigarette manufacturer, saying that using sweet flavors to encourage students to vape has placed a burden on schools.
The lawsuits, filed Monday, come from districts across the country, including Olathe, Kansas; St. Charles, Missouri; Long Island, New York; and La Conner, Washington.
Juul says they have not marketed to students and take steps to ensure their products are not available to anyone under 21.
“You can’t tell me that having flavors like bubblegum and grape is not trying to entice our kids to do something they know is unhealthy,” said Shannon Wickliffe, the president of the Olathe Public Schools Board of Education. “I understand it as a business strategy, but I think it’s kind of disgusting that you would try to addict our children knowing the health consequences.”
The districts are suing for damages and costs schools have incurred trying to fight against e-cigarettes. Some schools have had to install special sensors in the bathrooms, ban flash drives, hire additional staff, and institute programs to help students combat nicotine addiction.
The lawsuits came the same week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the number of vaping-related deaths had jumped to 26. Illnesses now number nearly 1,300.
The CDC also said that the number of middle school and high school students who vape increased by more than 50 percent from 2017 to 2018, jumping from 2.1 million to 3.6 million.