IPS joins Juul in targeting teens

Indianapolis Public Schools is the latest public school district in Indiana to join a lawsuit against the makers of vape products JUUL, one of the most popular e-cigarette brands accused of fueling what health officials called a new “epidemic of electronic cigarette use among young people.” “

Earlier this month, IPS joined hundreds of schools across the country and 10 more in Indiana who joined the massive tort case, alleging that JUUL Labs Inc. was targeting teens in marketing their produced and harmed the schools that educate these young people. In the process.

According to the complaint, the percentage of high school students who reported using nicotine nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018. In 2019, more than 5 million high school and high school students reported currently using e-cigarettes, including more than 25% of high school students. .

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The 2018 Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey found that more than a third of high school students in Indiana had used a JUUL product.

“The impact of electronic cigarettes on the health and well-being of students is devastating and we, as the largest school corporation in the state, must seize every opportunity to improve the lives of our students and students. increase the chances of success in our schools and of continued success after IPS. Indianapolis Public Schools said in a statement to IndyStar.

The lawsuit alleges that JUUL took pages from previous tobacco industry textbooks, targeting young people with astute advertising and maximizing addiction through effective delivery of nicotine. They hired young models and advertised using bright and “fun” themes, according to the complaint, and marketed flavors like mango, mint and crème brûlée. JUUL stopped selling non-menthol flavors in 2019.

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“The devastation and damage that JUUL has created, with advertising and marketing targeting teens and products focused on youth, has created a huge problem for many schools,” said Jon Kieffer, partner at Wagstaff & Cartmell and lawyer representing many schools in the case. “JUUL has deliberately designed a product that appeals to children and then hooks them. “

Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Assistant Brad Osswald holds one of three Juul devices he confiscated this year from students at Hamilton Heights High School.  Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine and have become popular among teens in Hamilton County.

IPS is one of nearly a dozen districts in Indiana that have joined the lawsuit so far. The others are: Carmel Clay Schools, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, South Bend Community School Corporation, School City of East Chicago, Griffith Public Schools, School City of Mishawaka, Elkhart Community Schools, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Monroe County Community Schools and Evansville Community School district.

“One of the guiding principles of Carmel Clay Schools is that students are the center of every decision,” said Michael J. Kerschner, Carmel School Council Member. “JUUL, to the detriment of our students, marketed directly to teenagers to make them addicted to their product. This litigation takes a stand against JUUL and other manufacturers.

JUUL did not comment on the lawsuit, but tried to position itself as a provider of safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes for adult smokers. In recent statements, the company has said it supports efforts to curb underage tobacco use and has settled several lawsuits in other states, alleging they illegally target young people in their marketing.

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“Over the past few years, we have reset our business because, as millions of adult smokers have converted to our products from cigarettes, we will only be trusted to provide alternatives to adult smokers if we continue to fight against the use of minors, respect the central role of our regulator and build on our shared commitment to science and evidence, ”said Joe Murillo, director of regulation at JUUL, in a statement posted on the site Company web last month in response to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The case makes its way to California federal court, where JUUL is based. Trials in this case could start early next year.

Call IndyStar education reporter Arika Herron at 317-201-5620 or email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @ArikaHerron.

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