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Alpine School Board approves settlement in Juul lawsuit

By Harrison Epstein and Sarah Hunt - Daily Herald | Mar 14, 2023

Craig Mitchelldyer, Associated Press

In this April 16, 2019, file photo, a researcher holds vape pens in a laboratory in Portland, Ore.

On Tuesday, the Alpine School Board of Education voted to accept a settlement from the Juul in a class action lawsuit settled by the company in December 2022. ASD was one of several school districts in Utah to join the class action, covering  thousands of lawsuits over the company’s e-cigarettes and advertising practices.

The suit alleged that Juul’s vape liquids targeted children with their candy-like flavors, causing a teen vaping epidemic.

The ASD board voted unanimously to accept the settlement with Juul. Further discussion on the settlement was held in the closed board session.

“The terms (of the settlement) are confidential, I can only confirm that we were a party to the national settlement,” said David Stephenson, executive director of external relations and communications.

According to the 2021 SHARP (Student Health and Risk Prevention) survey administered by the Utah Department of Health,  the most recent data available, approximately 19.6% of then-10th grade Utah County students vaped at some point in their life compared to 5.1% who smoked cigarettes.

Fewer students in Utah County also identified that using vape products would put them “at Moderate or Great risk of harming themselves” than tobacco. The Utah State Board of Education pulled support for the SHARP survey in 2022.

“These settlements represent a major step toward strengthening Juul Labs’ operations and securing the company’s path forward,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement in December.

Juul’s settlement was one of several in recent years. In September 2022, the company agreed to pay about $440 million to 33 states over product marketing and in 2021, paid $40 million to North Carolina school districts, parents and community entities with promises to continue to take action to ensure underage youth are restricted from accessing and buying vapes.

Other defendants in Alpine’s class action suit include Altria, one of the world’s largest tobacco producers, and their subsidiary, cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris, among others.

“The use, possession, influence, distribution, or sale of prohibited substances by students, staff, or visitors jeopardizes a safe school environment and constitutes a hazard to the welfare of students and faculty, in addition to being illegal under federal law and state law,” reads ASD’s policy on substance abuse. “The board recognizes the benefits of helping students avoid and overcome substance abuse and intends that the District apply restorative practices before discipline that is strictly punitive.”


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