LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) -- An East Bay school district and four other California school districts have been added to the growing list of lawsuits against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. for allegedly marketing its products to teenage users.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of Acalanes Union High School District, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, Rocklin Unified School District, Poway Unified School District and Anaheim Unified High School District.
The school districts are seeking damages from Juul to compensate for financial losses as a result of students being absent from school, as well as costs for education outreach and detection systems and staff to monitor use and enforce restrictions against vaping.
A 2017-18 California Healthy Kids Survey showed that Acalanes High School in Lafayette had the highest e-cigarette rates in the Bay Area.
In September, the school district applied for a $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant to combat e-cigarette use by installing sensors and hiring staff to help students addicted to nicotine.
More than a dozen school districts have issued similar lawsuits against Juul, including Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation. Last month, three school districts in San Mateo County filed suit against Juul along with the county board of education.
The suits allege that Juul's marketing strategy, advertising and product design have targeted youth, especially teens and preteens, causing a rise in the use of e-cigarettes by youth. The lawsuits also allege Juul has created an epidemic of nicotine addiction among teenage users, creating a public health crisis.
Juul spokesperson Ted Kwong last month responded to the San Mateo County lawsuits saying, "Our customer base is the world's 1 billion adult smokers and we do not intend to attract underage users. To the extent these cases allege otherwise, they are without merit."
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