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Jefferson Co. Schools suing popular e-cigarette brand

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County Schools is joined by Baldwin County Public Schools in planning to sue one of the country’s most popular e-cigarette brands, JUUL Labs.

The suit accuses JUUL Labs of helping create a vaping epidemic among school-aged children by making their products attractive to children.

Carissa Anthony, prevention and development coordinator, with Homewood City Schools said she’s seen the issue firsthand.

“For a while there, students would talk about vaping but then before we knew it, instead of saying vaping, they started saying ‘JUULing,’” Anthony said.

According to Anthony, the problem is mostly among high schoolers in her district.

“Sleek, cool design it was very discrete, really small. It could literally be held in your hand and no one could see it,” Anthony said.

Some of the vapes look like flash drives.

The law firm, Beasley Allen, filed the suit. The firm said that JUUL vape devices feature kid-friendly flavors and smells that helped plummet teens into nicotine addiction.

“The smell from it was very ... fruity smells,” Anthony explained. “You’d think it was a body spray.”

Anthony didn’t believe the teens understood the amount of nicotine they were consuming from the devices.

“They’re typically marked with 3% nicotine or 5% nicotine which doesn’t sound like a lot, but the reality is those pods are the equivalent to a pack or 2 packs of traditional cigarettes,” Anthony said.

JUUL Labs for comment and received this response:

“We will continue to reset the vapor category in the U.S. and seek to earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, legislators, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes. As part of that process, the company reduced its product portfolio, halted television, print, and digital product advertising and submitted a Premarket Tobacco Product Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration including comprehensive scientific evidence to support the harm reduction potential of its products and data-driven measures to address underage use. Our customer base is the world’s 1 billion adult smokers. We will respond to the allegations through the appropriate legal channels.”

The lawsuit seeks compensation to help students addicted to nicotine and other initiatives.

Hundreds of districts nationwide are also suing JUUL Labs.

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