Vape giant JUUL knew exactly what it was doing when it set its sights on America’s youth. Like Big Tobacco decades ago, JUUL knew that once teens and tweens were hooked on their nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, they would be users for life.
All the company needed was to lure youth to try their vapes. So JUUL designed its e-cigarettes to look sleek—more like thumb drives than cigarettes—and recruited celebrities and social media influencers popular with teens to be brand ambassadors. They also marketed vape juice in fruit and candy flavors to appeal to kids. The tactic worked. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by 2019, more than 10% of middle school students and more than a quarter of high school students had vaped within the past 30 days.
According to the nonprofit Truth Initiative, the main reason youth and young adults started vaping (77.9% and 90.3%, respectively) is because “they come in flavors I like.”
Not only is the vaping epidemic endangering our children’s health, but it is also disrupting learning in our schools. Students openly use e-cigarettes at school, and those who have become addicted to the nicotine in vapes often act out in class. Schools across the country have been forced to shoulder the effects, directing funds and resources to help stem the crisis.
Schools Join Massive JUUL Lawsuit
Over 100 school districts have turned to the legal system to hold JUUL accountable for the harm inflicted upon our children and to recoup losses they have incurred as a result. This week, Baldwin County Public Schools and Jefferson County Schools in Alabama joined the fight. The districts hired a national coalition of law firms led by Beasley Allen to file lawsuits against JULL Labs and major tobacco producer Altria Group (which acquired a 35% stake in JUUL in 2018) for their role in creating a national youth vaping epidemic and negatively impacting school systems.
The Baldwin and Jefferson county school districts have a combined 103 schools and serve more than 67,000 students. They join school districts serving more than 5 million students in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
JUUL’s Marketing Practices Scrutinized
The lengths that JUUL has gone to target youth are shocking. “Our investigation has revealed that JUUL designed and promoted its products to be attractive to children. Everything about the product’s design—from its size and appearance, kid-friendly flavors and supercharged nicotine formulation, and aggressive social media promotion—has been directed to teen and adolescent users,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Joseph VanZandt.
In July 2019, following a months-long investigation, including a review of tens of thousands of internal documents, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy concluded that JUUL “deliberately targeted children to become the nation’s largest seller of e-cigarettes.”
Two months later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to JUUL about its outreach and marketing practices that came to light during the Congressional hearing. In the letter, the agency put the company on notice: “If the disturbing rise in youth e-cigarette use continues, especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we’ll take even more aggressive action.”
“JUUL’s conduct has exposed a new generation of children to record levels of nicotine addiction, and schools are uniquely impacted,” VanZandt said. “These lawsuits are designed to ensure JUUL pays for the damages incurred, not the Alabama taxpayers who fund our public schools.”
We Can Help You Fight Back
If you’re a school administrator, you may be wondering what the point of a lawsuit is. If one or more of the campuses in your district suffer from a JUUL problem, it is likely expensive. Prevention efforts, added security, and additional resources to help students with addiction problems all add up.
You can contact the attorneys at Beasley Allen by filling out the form below. They can give you a free case evaluation and help you plan a path forward.