Schools in 3 states suing Juul over teen vaping issues

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NEW YORK — As the effects of vaping on overall health continue to emerge, three school districts in three different states are suing Juul Labs Inc., according to Bloomberg.

<p> FILE - In this April 16, 2019, file photo, a researcher holds vape pens in a lab at Portland State University in in Portland, Ore. As of October 2019, experts who examined lung tissue from 17 patients say lung damage reported in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices looks like chemical burns similar to what you’d see in people exposed to poisonous gases. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File) </p>

FILE - In this April 16, 2019, file photo, a researcher holds vape pens in a lab at Portland State University in in Portland, Ore. As of October 2019, experts who examined lung tissue from 17 patients say lung damage reported in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices looks like chemical burns similar to what you’d see in people exposed to poisonous gases. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File)

School officials from districts in New York, Kansas, and Missouri are accusing the company of intentionally targeting teens with its products and creating health issues tied to vaping. The complaints were filed in federal court Monday and echo the arguments local governments are using against opioid makers.

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Lawyers for the school districts claim Juul and other e-cigarette makers created a similar nuisance by flavoring their products and aggressively marketing them to teens. Juul created “a condition dangerous to the public’s health” through its actions, the Kansas school districts said in its suit. An estimated 5 million middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Bloomberg reports that Juul dominates the U.S. market for e-cigarettes and the products have been especially popular among younger users. The parent company of Philip Morris International Inc. invested about $13 billion in the company last year in exchange for a 35% stake.

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Juul’s conduct “has given rise to an epidemic of vaping across America and within plaintiff’s school district,” administrators of a Long Island district said in their complaint. School officials said the district has been forced to pay out “significant resources combating this public nuisance of defendant’s creation” and will continue to do so.

Juul had no comment on the lawsuits, Bloomberg reported.

According to the CDC, at least 18 deaths in the U.S. have been tied to vaping along with more than 1,000 injuries nationwide.

The company is a defendant in almost a dozen federal-court suits. Juul also faces more than 40 suits from state courts. Some plaintiffs include parents claiming their children have become addicted to nicotine as a result of using e-cigarettes.