PPS joins 1,000 other school districts nationwide in a lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc., the largest e-cigarette manufacturer in the country.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Public Schools announced that it has joined 1,000 other school districts in a nationwide lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc., the largest e-cigarette manufacturer in the country, according to a press release.
The district has joined a number of other major public school districts in the suit, including Seattle Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District and San Francisco Unified School District, to name a few.
The lawsuit accuses Juul of utilizing deceitful marketing tactics that intentionally target teens — not only exposing but also endangering them with the nicotine-containing e-liquid. Schools are left footing the bill in money, time and resources incurred as a result of students who became addicted, the plaintiffs argue.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages that could be utilized in funding education, prevention and providing anti-vaping enforcements in schools.
A new survey suggests that little progress has been made in keeping e-cigarettes away from teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study indicates an increase of usage this year with 14% of surveyed high schoolers saying they vaped recently, up from 11% the year before. In 2019, 28% of high schoolers said they had recently vaped.
Within the last three years, federal and state laws have raised the purchasing age for tobacco and vaping products, and most of the teen-preferred flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes have been banned. Regardless, educators say that vaping is still a big problem.
“E-cigarette use, or vaping, is unfortunately widespread among our students even though the sale of tobacco products to minors is prohibited by law,” said Guadalupe Guerrero, superintendent of Portland Public Schools.
The study is based on a Jan. 18 to May 31 online survey of about 28,000 U.S. middle and high school students. They asked questions pertaining to the use of e-cigarettes as well as various vaping devices within the previous 30 days.
In addition to the 14% of high school students who said they vaped recently this year, about 3% of middle schoolers surveyed said they also have done so. Of those who said they vaped, about 28% said they vaped daily. Nearly 85% said they utilized flavored products, preferring brands such as Puff Bar, Vuse, Hyde and Smok.
The FDA has struggled to regulate the sprawling vaping landscape, which includes both established companies and smaller startups. The agency has been pilloried by Congress and health advocates for missing multiple deadlines to issue decisions on millions of vaping products submitted by companies hoping to stay on the market for adults.
The FDA tried to ban the leading e-cigarette maker Juul’s products earlier this summer, citing questions about its potential health risks. But it’s been forced to put that effort on hold following a court challenge.
“The health, safety and well-being of our students is our foremost priority so accordingly, in response to this growing health crisis, we have joined school districts around the country in litigation against Juul Labs,” said Guerrero.
Various schools have been severely impacted by the massive vaping epidemic. PPS will be the first school district in the state of Oregon to join the litigation with the filling of the lawsuit.