In a landmark move, Francis Howell School District (of St. Charles County, MO) is suing the popular e-cigarette manufacturer, Juul.
Over the last few weeks, Juul has come under fire for illnesses and deaths resulting from the use of their products.
Unfortunately, there are underage Juul users in the mix, largely due to their aggressive social media marketing strategy, says school district attorney, Cindy Ormsby, of Curtis, Heinz, Garrett & O’Keefe.
“It has really become an issue that Francis Howell did not create, but they are having to deal with it on a daily basis,” said Ormsby.
Francis Howell is not the only district in the country filing suit against Juul. According to Ormbsy, Francis Howell’s case is part of a nation-wide legal strategy against the e-cigarette company.
In the 2015-2016 school year, Francis Howell School District reported 54 tobacco-related infractions from students. The following year there were 59 infractions. But after the popularization of Juul, infractions skyrocketed. In 2017-2018, there were 270. In 2018-2019, there were 248.
These problems are not only apparent in the district’s high schools. Juul has made its way down to the elementary schools, with Harvest Ridge and Fairmount Elementary Schools both reporting tobacco-related infractions from their students.
“I haven’t seen anything like this,” said Ormsby. “I have been practicing law for over 20 years. I have never seen anything explode like this issue has, to where so many school districts are dealing with it on such a high level in such a short period of time.”
It will be tough to quantify the costs associated with this crisis, but the goal of the suit is to pass the bill onto Juul. Francis Howell is considering the purchase of nicotine cessation patches to help students break the habit of smoking e-cigarettes.