LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Bullitt County Public Schools looks to be the first district in the state to go after the vaping company Juul. The lawsuit filed in federal court late Monday afternoon in Louisville is the first of its kind in the state, but their attorney believes more will follow.
"We spent 30 years getting kids off cigarettes and we were very successful and now within a matter of three years we have a whole generation that's addicted to nicotine," said attorney Ronald Johnson of Louisville-based Hendry Johnson Vaughn Emery, who is representing Bullitt County Public Schools.
The Bullitt County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution last week to sue Juul and other electronic cigarette manufacturers, distributors and retailers amid a substantial uptick in the number of middle and high school students using vaping products.
Bullitt County Public Schools is seeking compensation for its anti-vaping efforts and lost instructional time and is accusing Juul and other vaping companies of marketing their products to youth, according to the resolution passed Monday.
BCPS Superintendent Jesse Bacon said there's been "a dramatic increase" in the number of middle and high school students who've been disciplined for having vaping devices in schools. Johnson estimates 30 to 40 percent of students are addicted to vaping and he says resources that should be going to educating kids are instead going to policing vaping. He says, “We’ve got to do what we can to protect our kids.”
"They can't focus on their classes, they can't concentrate. they're running to the bathroom to vape, their cars in the parking lot to vape, so schools have teachers who can't be teachers because they have to be vaping police officers. The detentions are full of kids for vaping violations. They're putting vaping detectors in the bathrooms," said Johnson.
Johnson claims, “The vaping companies have manipulated the way that the nicotine is delivered in these products because it’s much more potent and much less irritating to the throat, which was all designed to target kids. So these kids are severely addicted to nicotine.”
Juul says the case is without merit, and it’s designed to help one billion smokers worldwide stop smoking cigarettes. Juul says it has never marketed to youth.
While the lawsuit was filed in Kentucky, Johnson expects the case to be tried in California. He expects it could take from two to five years for case to be resolved.
Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.