The Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) has joined the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, one of the country’s biggest nicotine vaping manufacturers.
In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the school districts claim JUUL has created “an epidemic” that impacts student learning and endangers the health of students in the districts.
“Protecting student safety and well-being is our top priority,” said Glendale Unified Superintendent Dr. Vivian Ekchian. “The vaping crisis puts student health at risk, negatively affects campus culture, and diverts valuable district resources. This crisis is made worse when companies like JUUL intentionally target young people in their marketing.”
According to the complaint, the vaping epidemic will continue to challenge the academic achievements of all Glendale Unified students as the district is
forced to divert resources, time and effort to confront the issue.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra have also filed lawsuits in state court against the e-cigarette maker.
Attorneys general for the states of New York and North Carolina, and the District of Columbia have also filed lawsuits against JUUL.
Pasadena Unified School District spokesperson Hilda Hovarth Ramirez said she did not know if the PUSD was considering joining GUSD and LAUSD
in their lawsuit.
Earlier this month, PUSD teamed with the city’s Health Department for a series of workshops on the dangers of vaping.
According to a story in the Oct. 18 edition of the Pasadena Polytechnic School Paw Print, 53.7 percent of the respondents of a survey sent to students by the school paper said that they had witnessed another student vaping. However, very few of the 231 respondents said they vaped regularly. Of the 52 that said they had vaped, half of them had tried vaping once, 13 students reported they vape every few months and 11 said they vaped every few weeks. One student responded they vape once or more a week and one student said they vaped daily.
According to a November report, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration found JUUL’s sales make up more than 64 percent of the e-cigarette market.
Smoking remains the No. 1 preventable killer in the United States and causes over 480,000 deaths per year.
As of Nov. 13, the CDC reported 42 deaths of patients as a result of e-cigarette or vaping product use, with a further 2,172 cases of associated lung injury reported nationwide.
“California has worked vigorously to decrease tobacco use only to have big tobacco develop youth targeted instruments like vape pens to cultivate a new generation of smokers,” said Christy Zamani, executive director of Day One, a Pasadena based youth advocacy nonprofit group.
“Nearly 1 in 10 high school students in LA County report using e-cigarettes. That is not by chance,” said LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn in a prepared statement. “JUUL has systematically targeted the teen market with everything from the design of their products to their advertisements. With this lawsuit we are going to hold JUUL accountable for their hand in this public health crisis and do what we can to stop this company from creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.”
JUUL recently announced it would stop selling some flavored electronic cigarettes, including mint, the most popular flavor among high school students, according to a recent government study.
“These results are unacceptable and that is why we must reset the vapor category in the US and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, attorneys general, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use,”
said JUUL Labs CEO K.C. Croshwaite in a
Lacey said JUUL’s decision to stop selling the flavored product had come too late and cited the many teens who are already caught up in vaping.
“Not only has vaping affected individual learning, it has led to a rise in student absences due to disciplinary action or sickness, which, in turn, causes a reduction in district state funding,” the DA’s civil complaint alleges. “Funds typically used for classroom instruction are now being diverted for educational assemblies, prevention and treatment for student vaping, as well as detection and enforcement of vaping. District property has also been affected as student bathrooms often cannot be utilized due to high instances of bathroom vaping.” n