KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Schools is the latest and largest Tennessee school system to join in a pending lawsuit against vaping product manufacturer Juul. The lawsuit asserts that the company fraudulently and intentionally marketed to children through social media, online advertising and children’s television networks.
“Tennessee students were misled when Juul said vaping was not harmful, because we now know vaping products actually can have ten times the nicotine of a cigarette,” attorney Chris McCarty of Lewis Thomason law firm, which is the Tennessee counsel on the lawsuit, said. “School systems suffer costs of prevention programs and counseling when students become addicted to e-cigarettes.”
The Knox County Board of Education voted unanimously this month to join other districts seeking to recover the costs of current and future prevention programs, counseling and treatment for addicted students.
Attorneys contend Jull marketed candy and fruit-flavored vapes, or pods, to appeal to young people, and vaping products were sold online, making it easier to avoid legal age requirements.
School districts could receive a number of benefits from joining the lawsuit if it is successful including:
- Compensation so that districts are not forced to draw from general funds for prevention and treatment programs.
- Funding for education programs to warn about the harmful health effects of vaping.
- Additional staffing to prevent vaping on school grounds.
- Counselors to handle social and emotional issues that result from nicotine addiction.
- Placement of vaping detectors in bathrooms.
The lawsuit also seeks intervention to ban the sale of the flavor pods and stop the intentional marketing of the product to children. Funding from school districts is not required to join the lawsuit, and attorneys are working on a contingency basis.
Tennessee school systems that have joined the lawsuit so far include Bledsoe County, Bristol City, Cannon County, Chester County, Claiborne County, Cumberland County, Elizabethton City, Etowah City, Greeneville City, Greene County, Humphreys County, Knox County, Lincoln County, Millington Municipal, Oneida Special School District, Putnam County, Roane County, Sullivan County and Warren County.
Alcoa City Schools joined a suit being brought by Beasley Allen Law Firm in late March.