KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Five North Carolina school districts just filed lawsuits against electronic cigarette maker JUUL.
Officials with one of the districts, Kannapolis City Schools, says the company caused a “public health crisis” in its schools and it has spent a lot of “time and resources” combatting the use of e-cigarettes among its students.
The lawsuit claims JUUL wanted to “get young people hooked.” It says JUUL products had “video-game-like features like ‘party mode’” and “kid-friendly flavors like mango and cool mint.” In addition, the district says JUUL “hired young models” and “young social-media ‘influencers’” and advertised on “children’s websites, such as Nick Junior and Cartoon Network.”
Janet Ward Black and Phil Federico are lawyers representing the school district. They claim it had to “devote and divert” a lot of resources to deal with the impact of JUUL on both middle and high school students. “You’ll see that it’s just a burden on the administration and on the teachers that they just don’t deserve,” Black told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.
“Teachers are being pulled away from teaching in order to be police officers ostensibly to help stop this kind of activity,” Black said. “Administration people are having to not pay attention to certain things because they have to make sure that a school sporting event is being monitored, or the school buses or being monitored.”
Kannapolis City Schools is asking for money for all the time and energy spent addressing JUUL usage. It also wants JUUL to be required to take other steps. “It would take the kids that have become addicted to nicotine and it would provide a mechanism to get them off nicotine,” Federico said.
Black and Federico say about 300 school districts across the country filed similar lawsuits against JUUL, including Robeson, Rockingham, Wake and Warren counties in North Carolina.
Stoogenke emailed JUUL for its response to the lawsuit, but the company did not respond in time for this report.
He also asked Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools if it is thinking about suing JUUL. CMS did not respond to Channel 9.
Stoogenke was one of the first reporters in the country to warn parents about JUUL in 2018. The following year (2019), North Carolina was the first state to sue the e-cigarette maker. Last year, the company agreed to pay the state $40 million to settle the case.
(WATCH BELOW: JUUL to pay $40M in teen vaping suit settlement)
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