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Broward County School District Joins Lawsuit Against Vaping Companies

If you are concerned about vaping among children, you’re not alone.

The Broward School Board has announced that it is joining more than 100 government entities nationwide in a federal lawsuit demanding compensation for resources that have to be spent on counselors, monitoring and programming to curb youth use of vaping products.

Broward is one of six school districts taking the lead on the case as “bellweathers” to represent the rest, according to school district lawyer Eugene Pettis, of Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm in Fort Lauderdale.

More than five million middle and high school students across the country use e-cigarettes, the lawsuit states. “Consistent with this national trend, youth in The School Board of Broward County, Florida … are using e-cigarettes at high rates — rates which continue to climb.”

It explains that vaping flavors such as mint and mango are among the methods that companies use to lure teens into vaping.

The defendants in the case are JUUL Laboratories and Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company.

Pettis says the lawsuit is not be funded with taxpayer money. If the complaint is successful, attorneys would be paid from the proceeds of the lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount.

“There have been tons of studies that show e-cigarettes are addictive and that a large percentage of users go on to be smokers,” Pettis adds. “They create a societal movement that shows it’s cool to vape, but they don’t tell you about the damage that’s done in the long run.”

In total, nearly a dozen Florida districts are involved, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. More than 30 California school districts are also part of the suit.

The “bellweather” districts are Broward and Escambia counties in Florida, the Three Village Central School District on Long Island in New York, the Central Bucks County School District in Pennsylvania, the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona and The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, east of San Francisco in California.

JUUL announced last November that it would no longer be marketing its mint-flavored products, after the results of two national surveys on e-cigarette use among teenagers. Altria stopped making e-cigarettes two years ago, although it still owns a minority share of JUUL Labs.