The Anaheim Elementary School District has joined the Los Angeles Unified School District and the San Diego Unified School District in a lawsuit against Juul Labs, Inc., the leading e-cigarette manufacturer.
The lawsuit alleges that Juul is negligently damaging the health of each district’s students and causing a public nuisance. Additionally, the lawsuit claims that through targeted and deceptive marketing, Juul Labs has been capturing children’s interest in e-cigarette products as early as elementary school, not only exposing students to the harmful products, but also influencing their predisposition to engage in this unhealthy behavior once they leave elementary school, creating a youth vaping epidemic.
“Accountability is important, especially when deliberate practices lead to the harm of children,” Anaheim Elementary Board President, J. Paolo Magcalas said in a district news release. “The marketing practices of the e-cigarette industry have deliberately been aimed at children with direly harmful consequences.”
Throughout the country, there have been medical cases documenting health risks associated with vaping, including hospitalizations and other illnesses. For years, Anaheim Elementary has been teaching about the dangers of smoking and using tobacco, as well as equipping with the knowledge to make healthy tobacco-related decisions.
However, the district’s lawsuit says these educational efforts have been circumvented through misleading marketing efforts used by the e-cigarette industry seemingly intended to target children. The suit cites industry practices such as selling candy flavored and fruit flavored products, advertising in ways that entice children to seek out these devices and minimizing student perceptions of how harmful these products are to their health.
Although vaping is most prevalent among youth in junior high and high school, elementary schools have encountered incidents among students, including those who bring vaping paraphernalia to school, which detracts from learning and diverts school resources to combat the issue.
“It is our moral imperative to demand accountability from those that deliberately target our students to engage in harmful behavior and to ensure that these negligent practices stop,” Anaheim Elementary Superintendent Dr. Christopher Downing said in the district’s news release.
“It is our goal to expand our educational efforts by teaching our students and emphasizing to their families the danger of using these vaping products,” he added.