San Diego Unified School District files suit against JUUL Labs
Published - 01/10/20 - 08:15 AM | 5790 views | 6 6 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The San Diego Unified School District has filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc. for the company’s role in cultivating and fostering an e-cigarette epidemic that disrupts the education and learning environment across the district. The suit was filed in the San Diego Superior Court on Jan. 7 (Case 37-2020-00000935-CU-MT-CTL).

The district’s lawsuit follows those filed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, Glendale Unified School District, Compton Unified School District, and Anaheim Elementary District, all against JUUL for the same negligence and nuisance claims. 

The lawsuit seeks injunction and abatement to stop the e-cigarette epidemic, which has severely impacted the school districts by interfering with normal school operations. The districts also seek compensatory damages to provide relief from financial losses as a result of students being absent from school, coordinating outreach and education programs regarding the health risks of vaping, and enforcement actions – such as vape detectors, video surveillance, and staff to monitor the school’s property in an effort to combat the e-cigarette crisis.

“Our district is in the business of educating students in a healthy and safe environment, said San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten. “This lawsuit supports district goals by holding JUUL accountable for its harmful marketing practices and unsafe products.”

Since entering the market in 2015, JUUL has dominated the e-cigarette industry and now controls over 70 percent of the market. Reports found that in 2018, 4.9 million middle and high school students used tobacco products, with 3.6 million of those students using e-cigarettes. From 2017 to 2018, youth e-cigarette users increased by 1.5 million. That growth is largely based on JUUL’s market strategy, which is to target school-age children to ensure the continual growth of their consumer base. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the 2018 spike in nicotine vaping was the largest for any substance recorded in 44 years. JUUL’s aggressive, strategic marketing and product designs not only create an addiction crisis among youth consumers, but also a widespread burden on school districts.

An additional national study found that more than 27 percent of high school students use e-cigarette products. Locally, student vaping has increased substantially in just two short years, with the percentage of SDUSD students who currently use electronic vapor products climbing dramatically from 2017 – 2019.

San Diego Unified School District is represented by John P. Fiske of Baron & Budd, P.C. and Brian Panish and Rahul Ravipudi of Panish, Shea, & Boyle, LLP.

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