Updated on Friday, Dec. 11 at 9:32 a.m. to include a statement from JUUL Labs, Inc.
Greenville County Schools’ Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday, Dec. 8, to follow school districts across the country and sue the e-cigarette maker JUUL Labs, Inc. The district is suing JUUL for allegedly targeting school-age children in their marketing.
The school district is currently hiring Columbia-based law firm Halligan Mahoney & Williams. The school district is reviewing the agreement, and they expect to sign it within the coming days, according to GCS officials.
Over 3.5 million U.S. middle and high school students have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, including 19.6% of high schoolers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also reported that JUUL has been the top-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S. since 2017.
“This week, the Board of Trustees voted to protect the health and safety of students. We agreed to pursue legal action against the makers of JUUL e-cigarettes for purposely targeting its products to school-age children and the impact that it has had on the School District and its students,” board chair Lynda Leventis-Wells said in a statement.
Leventis-Wells said that the school district was one of the first in the state to ban e-cigarettes and vaping products on school property. She also said GCS has worked with the Red Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness in schools of the dangers of tobacco use.
“The District will continue to advocate for and protect the health of its students,” she said.
In response, a spokesperson for JUUL said that the company had worked with authorities to fight the underage use of its product.
“We will continue to reset the vapor category in the U.S. and seek to earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, legislators, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “As part of that process, the company reduced its product portfolio, halted television, print, and digital product advertising and submitted a Premarket Tobacco Product Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration including comprehensive scientific evidence to support the harm reduction potential of its products and data-driven measures to address underage use. Our customer base is the world’s 1 billion adult smokers. We will respond to the allegations through the appropriate legal channels.”