JCBE Authorizes Legal Action Against E-Cigarette Manufacturers

Lawsuit will seek to recoup costs associated with student vaping

December 10, 2019 — The Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE) tonight authorized legal action against manufacturers, distributors and sellers of electronic cigarettes and vaping products in an effort to reduce teen vaping and recoup costs associated with student use of the products.

In a unanimous vote, the board approved a resolution to seek compensation for the time and resources Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) has spent counseling, educating and disciplining students for vaping-related incidents, and to protect its students from the dangers associated with vaping.  This litigation will come at no cost to taxpayers and district funds will not be allocated for legal fees. 

“Jefferson County Public Schools has taken significant steps to bring awareness to students and families about the potential dangers of vaping and using e-cigarettes,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said.  “The action taken by the board today is another step in addressing those concerns.  It is clear that JUUL, other electric cigarette and vaping product manufacturers market to young people and are potentially putting their health at risk with these products. 

“We will always put student safety first,” he added.  “Legal action, along with our anti-vaping campaign, Vaping Equals, shows the commitment of our board and our district to protect children.”

Youth vaping is at epidemic levels locally and nationally, fueled in part by aggressive marketing to young people with appealing, kid-friendly flavors like cotton candy and gummi bear, and misleading safety information.   

School year-to-date numbers show a similar trend in JCPS: Last year, through the 74th school day, there were 92 incidents related to nicotine vapor products.  This year, through the same number of school days, there have been 148 incidents – a 61 percent increase. In addition to health concerns, the resolution notes that the use and possession of vaping products by students cause a “significant interruption of the educational process.”

At least two other Kentucky school districts – Fayette County and Bullitt County – have authorized similar lawsuits.

The legal action is being handled by attorney Ronald Johnson and his law firm Hendy Johnson Vaughn & Emery of Louisville.

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