SEATTLE — Seattle Public Schools have announced that they are filing a lawsuit against electronic cigarette company Juul, claiming the company's marketing targets youth.
The suit claims that Juul's advertising and product design "deliberately targets minors" and has contributed to a dramatic increase in youth vaping and youth nicotine addiction.
In October, King County also filed a lawsuit against Juul.
King County's lawsuit claimed that 90% of tobacco and nicotine violations in Seattle Public Schools during the 2017-2018 school year were for vaping — and more than 60% of those violations were for Juul use specifically.
King County said Juul fueled the vaping public health crisis. Juul has come under fire for specifically marketing to minors with its fruity flavors and advertisements.
“There is no doubt that vaping is reaching epidemic proportions among teenagers, and we can’t just sit by while our students suffer the effects of being targeted by Juul,” said Superintendent Denise Juneau.
In addition to filing suit against Juul, SPS also filed a suit against Altria Group, Inc. (parent company of Philip Morris), which owns a 35% stake in Juul, and Eonsmoke, LLC, which markets Juul-compatible products and has initiated youth-oriented social media campaigns such as “Doit4juul.”
In 2018, more than one in every four SPS high school seniors reported vaping in the past 30 days, the suit claimed.
Between 2016 and 2018, e-cigarette use increased 229% among SPS 10th graders, the district said.
SPS administrators report that in the last two years, vaping in school bathrooms has become a real issue, with kids congregating in the bathrooms, vapor clouds setting off fire alarms, and assistant principals and security having to devote significant time to increased hall sweeps.
Throughout the district, 90% percent of tobacco and nicotine violations during the 2017-2018 school year were for vaping, and over 60% of those violations were for JUUL use specifically, the suit said.
The suit is seeking damages and funding for district prevention education and addiction treatment.
The school district is also asking Juul to cease marketing addicting products to minors.