Schools across the United States are standing up against what looks like an epidemic of vaping among their students, with youngsters hiding vapes in the sleeves of their sweatshirts, not only using their e-cigarettes in bathrooms but selling them in the school hallways.
It is hardly surprising that four schools have come forward to sue Juul, accusing the company of targetting teenagers in their marketing, triggering the epidemic that has drained schools and educators of time and possessions as they think over how to provide help to students that are addicted to the life-threatening product.
Whitney Meissner, superintendent of the tiny La Conner School District north of Seattle, which filed the suit on Monday said, “We’re tired of companies that just want to make money at children’s expense.”
The lawsuit has been filed amid officials’ attempts to restrict the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths. In most of the cases, it was found that patients vaped THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.
Juul has opted to remain mum about the lawsuits; however, it left no stone unturned in the past to defend its products, claiming they were designed to help adults who smoke traditional cigarettes resort to using a safer alternative. Aside from shutting down social media accounts, Juul has discontinued sales of its flavored products to retail stores in a bid to put a lid on teen use.
With over 1,000 getting ill, nearly 21 people have died due to vaping related illnesses. On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced the death of a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx, the first teen and the youngest victim of the deadly illness.
As investigators focus on THC products available in the black-market as the main culprit, several states have already banned the sale of all vaping products, while warning consumers to refrain from using any vape product for their own safety. Pointing out at the dearth of information about the long-term effects of vaping, Pediatricians cite reports showing alarming symptoms in teenagers who get addicted to nicotine over a period of time.
Statistics show vaping has garnered huge popularity among youngsters. A government-funded survey reported that nearly 1 in 9 school seniors is vaping nicotine on almost a daily basis, while a quarter reported using vape products once in the past thirty days.
La Conner School District, Francis Howell School District in Missouri, Three Village Central School District in New York and Olathe Public Schools in Kansas accused Juul of deliberately targetting teenagers, designing their products to attract young people. Bearing a resemblance to USB drives, these sleek devices that create a thin vapor are hard for adults to detect.
Representing three of the aforesaid school systems, Jonathan P. Kieffer of the Kansas City, Mo., law firm Wagstaff & Cartmell says, “The lawsuits that we filed . . . were the first in what we fully anticipate will be many, many more to follow in the coming weeks and months as many school districts have decided to go on the offensive to combat the epidemic of youth vaping in the nation’s schools.”
“America’s schools are truly on the front lines of this epidemic, which has crossed all geographic and demographic lines and is increasing at an alarming rate in all regions of the country and impacting urban, suburban and rural schools,” it adds.
Schools have invested time and resources to crack down on students caught using vape products. Some schools even bought steeply-priced devices that detected vapor from e-cigarettes in school bathrooms. Regrettably, this has led to students getting suspended in some schools.
Suspensions for nicotine violation in the Francis Howell School District has skyrocketed over the past four years, with a whopping 248 students getting suspended in the 2018-2019 school year, the lawsuit stated.
School systems say they have lost valuable time focusing on the epidemic rather than the overall development of students. Some schools have appointed dedicated staff members who monitor bathrooms, as well as tutors to help students who miss school due to suspensions. Other districts continue to lose state funding as a result of the increasing number of suspended students, who were caught vaping.
While the root of vaping related illnesses remains unknown, it is sad to see students, the country’s future getting addicted to nicotine, or worse, other dangerous chemicals yet to be discovered. What do you suggest schools should do to curb the vaping epidemic? Let us know in the comments section below.