Township High School Dist. 214 board members discussed the idea of entering into the federal litigation against Juul Labs, Inc., an electronic cigarette company, for “deceptive marketing tactics” aiming their devices toward children and teens. Discussion took place during the board of education’s meeting Thursday, Jan. 21.
The federal litigation against Juul Labs aims to show that they not only targeted buyers underage, but also misrepresented the safety of their products, board members were told.
According to background on the issue prepared by the district for board members, “in recent years the use and abuse of e-cigarettes and vaping devices has increased dramatically among high school and middle school students, leading to significant risk of addiction and potentially life-threatening respiratory ailments.
“Students at Dist. 214 have not been immune to the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, leading the district to direct funds to try to decrease the use of the popular e-cigarettes. This occurred in the form of “staff time, disciplinary proceedings, vaping detectors, and other costs.”
The district believes that they will keep spending funds on the issue until the use of vapes is decreased by students.
Supt. David Schuler said that while information collected from the surveys the district does of students shows that vaping usage isn’t as “trendy” as before, there is still the possibility for numbers to increase once schools are back in-person fully.
Currently, there are more than 250 U.S public school districts in more than 20 states that are involved in the litigation, which is led by Frantz Law Group, APLC of California.
The district said that it was “determined that it is necessary, advantageous, desirable and in the public interest and the best interest of the district” to participate in the litigation by filing a lawsuit that will seek reimbursement for the money they have spent trying to address the issue.
Schuler expressed during the meeting that it would be a good opportunity for the district to be paid back for all the money they have spent trying to stop vaping and that there was “very little downside for us pursuing this.”
While the board did not make a decision during the meeting, members of the audience were able to make public comments.
One resident expressed her disapproval of the district participating in the litigation, saying that “there is a downside, it’s a matter of ethics and doing the right thing.”
The resident said that the district should not participate in lawsuits that don’t “have fees unless you win” as she believes the lawsuits as “creepy” and “not a positive thing for our society.”
“The fact that you are considering participating is what is really a creepy direction the society has taken. That is a downside. The decision to fight against vaping is a decision that you have made, and that is fine, but then to then say that you need to go get reimbursed for the decisions you have undertaken….it’s an attractive sales pitch, it’s free money, but it’s not the right way to go about getting the free money.”
The district will continue discussion of the item during future meetings. The next Dist. 214 Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Feb. 11.
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