Palm Beach School District sues e-cig maker

WEST PALM BEACH — With over three dozen deaths now reported nationwide from lung injuries caused by vaping, the Palm Beach County School District has recently become one of several suing JUUL, an e-cigarette maker.

The district filed suit Nov. 22 in the U.S. Circuit Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami, seeking reimbursement from JUUL Labs Inc. for costs it has incurred, although no specific expenditures are cited. Specifically, says the litigation, “Significant and ongoing nicotine abuse and addiction by students” at Palm Beach County schools “continues to necessitate significant steps to combat and prevent use … by students.

“For example, Palm Beach (County) schools has been forced to: (a) create a ‘night class’ for students who have been suspended because of vaping; (b) redirect staff to assist in revising the Student Code of Conduct geared at specifically prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes; and (c) conduct town hall meetings to educate parents about the dangers attendant from students’ use of e-cigarettes.”

Over a dozen districts throughout the U.S., including ones in Arizona, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Washington state, have filed similar suits.

The litigation even calls the recent documented rise in teenage use of e-cigarette “vaping” products “the JUUL epidemic.”

The suits accuse JUUL, maker of e-cigarette devices and flavored liquid nicotine used for vaping, of marketing directly to school-age teens. JUUL is the e-cigarette market’s dominant player, and e-cigarette use increased 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students between 2017 and 2018, the suit states, citing a 2018 survey by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from February.

Neither representatives of JUUL nor school district officials could be reached for comment during Thanksgiving week.

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