E-cigarette maker must pay to target children, says Pennsylvania Central School District in lawsuit

The Franklin County Career and Technology Center is the latest school district in Pennsylvania to join a legal uprising against vaping company JUUL in federal court.

The center joined 40 other school districts in Pennsylvania and 1,100 school districts across the country, in suing JUUL and co-defendant Altria alleging negligence and racketeering in their marketing and design of JUUL products to children.

The lawsuit outlines the methods and tactics used by the two companies to grow the market for young vapers and JUULers as the rate of smoking among children hit an all-time high since 2000.

JUUL designed kid-friendly and “cool” products, using teenage flavors to appeal to children, according to the lawsuit. Meanwhile, his marketing techniques targeted children and used social media influencers to promote their products, according to the lawsuit.

Another marketing tactic was to treat JUUL as if it were a smoking cessation product, when in reality JUUL was designed from the start to replace a declining generation of smokers with vapers, according to the trial.

Because children were becoming addicted to JUUL in droves, schools such as the Franklin County Career and Technology Center had to devote more time and resources to discipline, health purposes and more, according to the allegations. of the trial.

Thomas King III, an attorney representing the district, said normal smoke detectors don’t pick up JUUL’s vapor. If district administrators wanted to detect JUUL in bathrooms, they had to spend $1,100 on JUUL detectors. Smoking and vaping are against most school district policies, and King said installing a JUUL detector in every room in every building and on every bus in every district comes with unfathomable costs.

“[This] cost district ratepayers a lot of money and effort to deal with disciplinary issues [related to JUUL]“, said the king.

The lawsuit covers 1,100 districts nationwide and originated in San Francisco, Calif., with the law firm Franz, which litigates on behalf of the San Francisco United School District.

A federal judge ruled that each school district had its own claim in the case because the damages are different in each school district, according to King, which means the plaintiffs could not bring a class action.

According to King, the first of those cases to be filed are now moving to trial court. On November 15, the San Francisco United School District will go to court to plead its case. King said these should provide a measure of the deals that can be made with JUUL and Altia.

The lawsuit raises eight counts against JUUL and Altria, including common nuisance, racketeering, negligence, failure to warn, design flaws and more.

JUUL’s products were specifically designed to deliver a faster, more potent nicotine hit, while reducing and minimizing the irritation to a user’s throat when inhaling JUUL, according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, JUUL has paid certain school districts to enter school buildings to stage anti-smoking campaigns, with the added benefit of encouraging the use of JUUL as an alternative, according to the lawsuit.

JUUL paid a Baltimore charter school $134,000 to start a summer camp to teach children about healthy lifestyles, for which JUUL provided the curriculum; $10,000 to speak to students on campus; and giving the Police Activities League of Richmond, Calif., $90,000 to provide JUUL’s “Moving On” vaping education program to teenage college students suspended for using cigarettes, according to the lawsuit.

During a 2019 presentation, JUUL presenters told students, with no parents or teachers present in the room, that JUUL was “completely safe” and even demonstrated how to use a JUUL, according to the lawsuit.

This meeting was presented to the school as an anti-smoking initiative, and the school was presumably paid to host it, according to the lawsuit.

From 2000 to 2017, smoking rates among high school students dropped by 73%. However, in 2018, e-cigarette usage, including JUUL products, increased by 78% in the same year.

The ease of use and “sweetness” of e-cigarettes remove external inhibitors, according to the lawsuit, and allow for extreme levels of use.

Finally, JUUL previously used marketing techniques such as billboards, sponsor events, free samples, product placement in the media, and the sale of flavored vaping devices, all of which were permitted for e-cigarettes. , but banned from regular cigarette makers, according to the lawsuit. .

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