School Districts v. Juul
Less than a month after the Los Angeles school district filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc., the Glendale Unified School District followed, stating that Juul had created an “epidemic of youth vaping that impedes student learning and puts the health and safety of Glendale Unified students at risk,” according to the Los Angeles Times, adding that “this crisis is made worse when companies like Juul intentionally target young people in their marketing.”
The L.A. Unified School District (the second-largest school district in the nation) class action lawsuit, which is filed on behalf of school districts throughout California, seeks unspecified compensation for financial harms and punitive damages. Further, it petitions the court to allow this lawsuit to be a vehicle for school systems across the state to receive compensation from Juul: “ We have had to divert dollars away from classroom instruction and instead spend it on counseling and programs to help inform students of the dangers of vaping,” said L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner.
According to the lawsuit, Juul's marketing techniques included hiring social media “influencers,” to attract youths to its product, but Juul denies marketing to young people. The lawsuit further notes that “Big Tobacco” can no longer employ such strategies and tactics to market traditional cigarettes, but “Nothing prevented Juul from doing so.” Juul critics say that the vape company used the same advertising techniques perfected by the tobacco industry that got young people hooked on cigarettes.
Juul has been hit harder with these lawsuits than other e-cigarette companies for another reason besides its marketing campaign: The San Francisco-based company is the most popular brand amongst high school students, and has captured about 70 percent of the vaping product market. Its flavor pods are particularly appealing to first-time and young nicotine users.
To date, Juul has responded to the class action lawsuit by saying it will suspend the sale of mango, creme, fruit and cucumber pods in the U.S., and it will also suspend U.S. advertising. It denies “marketing to kids” and is “taking steps to limit access to products for anyone under 21.”
Also at the end of October, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products and L.A. City Council is considering banning the sale of all e-cigarettes and vaping devices citywide.
READ MORE E-CIGARETTES HEALTH HAZARDS LEGAL NEWS
- L.A. school police responded to over 1,000 vaping incidents in 2018
- L.A. Unified recorded 435 vaping incidents in 2018, but the school officials believe that number is extremely under-counted, according to court documents.
- The Los Angeles County of Department of Public Health survey indicates that more than 30 percent of high school students said they used e-cigarette products; 10 percent said they were regular users.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked vaping to 1,479 cases of a mysterious lung disease over the last six months
- As of October 30, 2019, at least 34 people have died since the outbreak—known as EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury) began.
- Almost 80 percent of EVALI cases involve e-cigarette users younger than 35, and an additional 15 percent are younger than 18.