More than 100 School Districts Join Litigation Against JUUL
In addition to hundreds of individual suits, the nation-wide litigation against JUUL now includes more than 100 public school districts, across nine states, including Pennsylvania. These school districts are seeking to hold JUUL accountable for its role in fueling the e-cigarette crisis, causing districts to divert valuable taxpayer funding to anti-vaping education, and addressing absences caused by JUUL related sicknesses.
What is JUUL?
JUUL is a popular brand of e-cigarette, an electronic nicotine delivery system designed to vaporize its liquid for inhalation. This process is commonly referred to as vaping. The concentrated liquid is contained in replaceable cartridges called pods, which come in a variety of flavors including menthol. Although recently banned in the United States, teen-attractive flavors, including mango, mint, cucumber and “fruit medley” are still sold in Canada and available online. Just one pod contains as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
The brand is known for its USB (flash drive) shape, making it easy to conceal and use in public places, including schools. Particularly concerning, a recent study allegedly showed 63% of users between ages 15–24 did not know JUUL pods always contains nicotine. Further, the pod’s vapor is smoother than a cigarette’s harsh irritants, falsely leading smokers to think JUUL pods are a healthier alternative, while not recognizing its addictive affects. JUUL pods present significant risks of addiction, directly harming children’s health and school performance.
How has JUUL Targeted Children?
Besides its youth-friendly flavors and discrete designs, one study concluded over half of JUUL’s social media marketing posts were “youth-orientated.” These, and similar practices targeting children and teens, have been consistently observed since JUUL’s launch. Arguably due to JUUL’s marketing efforts, 2018 saw a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high schoolers and 48% increase among middle schoolers. Additionally, it is claimed that JUUL has been intentionally vague in its advertising, not adequately disclosing the concentrated nicotine levels present in all pods.
Because of these alleged practices, JUUL is currently under federal investigation. JUUL’s branding, messaging, and opaque practices illustrate a disturbing practice of targeting children and teens.
This blog was co-authored with Stark & Stark summer associate Zach Linse.