The Boulder Valley School District has filed a federal lawsuit against Juul and Altria, alleging deceptive and misleading marketing of e-cigarettes that targeted children.
The lawsuit alleges Juul and Altria designed e-cigarette products to create and sustain addiction, and coupled the products with youth-targeted marketing programs to create a new generation of customers.
The lawsuit cites violations of Colorado law and of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, along with negligence and nuisance laws relating to the companies’ marketing creation that targeted children.
“I have been disheartened to see students in the Boulder Valley School District and across our state targeted by these companies, especially knowing that they’re using the same deceptive advertising practices employed by tobacco companies for years,” superintendent Rob Anderson said.
“We, unfortunately, have been watching history repeat itself and Juul has been using the same playbook. Our campuses have been littered with the Juul pods and we have had students as young as fourth and fifth grade who have been treated for nicotine addiction related to vaping.
“This is not OK and we intend to do everything in our power to hold them accountable for the impact it has had on our students.”
The lawsuit alleges the companies’ work caused more children to start using e-cigarettes, creating an epidemic and public health crisis.
Other allegations include that Juul and Altria created highly addictive e-cigarettes that were easy for children and nonsmokers to inhale and experimented and measured nonsmokers’ “buzz” levels, and perceptions of throat harshness.
It adds that Juul’s e-cigarettes have much higher doses of nicotine than cigarettes, and that Juul and Altria knew the products were unnecessarily addictive.
The lawsuit also says Juul and Altria used kid-friendly flavors such as mango and cool mint without ensuring the flavoring additives were safe for inhalation. It’s also alleged that e-cigarette devises were designed to avoid the look and feel of a cigarette, thus making it easy for children to hide the habit.