students1OWENSBORO, Ky. (1/15/20) — Daviess County and Owensboro Public Schools Boards of Education are considering joining legal proceedings on behalf of protecting the health of students, school officials reported in a press release today.

During a meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, the DCPS Board of Education will consider adopting a resolution authorizing litigation against JUUL and other manufacturers, distributors and sellers of electronic cigarettes and vaping products, according to a press release. This meeting will take place at the DCPS Central Office, 1622 Southeastern Parkway. The OPS Board of Education will consider the same resolution at their meeting  4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at the OPS Central Office, 450 Griffith Ave.

DCPS and OPS are considering joining several other public school districts across Kentucky in taking a stand against products and marketing practices that are detrimental to the health and well-being of students, OPS Spokesman Jared Reveltt wrote. The public nuisance lawsuit, first filed by the law firm of Hendy Johnson Vaughn & Emery PSC of Louisville, includes Jefferson, Fayette, Warren, Jessamine, Bullitt and Madison county public school districts among plaintiffs accusing JUUL Labs Inc. (JLI) of “marketing its JUUL nicotine delivery products in a manner designed to attract minors, that JLI’s marketing misrepresents or omits that JUUL products are more potent and addictive than cigarettes, that JUUL products are defective and unreasonably dangerous due to their attractiveness to minors, and that JLI promotes nicotine addiction.”

The resolutions being considered by DCPS and OPS Boards of Education note several areas of concern. Both districts have witnessed a significant increase in the number of students using electronic cigarettes or vaping products, to the point that usage is considered at epidemic levels. The resolutions also reference the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, have found that vaping products and e-cigarettes are unsafe for children and teens, and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent JUUL a warning letter alleging improper marketing practices on Sept. 9, 2019.

Both districts allege that the use and possession of these products by students has caused and is causing “a significant interruption of the educational process, including but not limited to interfering with student learning,” and that district and school employees have been compelled to dedicate “significant amount(s) of time and resources addressing and disciplining students for possessing and using vaping and similar products.”

Matt Robbins said, “As Superintendent of the Daviess County Public Schools district, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility toward our students. My commitment to our families and community has been and remains to put ‘Kids First’ in every decision. I feel compelled to defend our children and youth against anything that would dare to rob them of their health and well-being, or that would in any way impede their access to an educational experience that is designed to prepare our students for success in life.”

OPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Matthew Constant said, “We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of vaping and e-cigarette violations with our students over the past few years. Potentially joining this lawsuit gives us an opportunity to strongly advocate for the health and well-being of our students and to address the disruption of the learning environment in our schools, taking time and valuable resources away from our students.”

Upon approval of the resolution by their respective Boards of Education, chairmen Dr. Tom Payne (DCPS) and Jeremy Edge (OPS) will sign the resolution, along with their Superintendents, authorizing attorney Ronald Johnson of the law firm Hendy Johnson Vaughn & Emery of Louisville to add the districts to the civil action against any appropriate parties as they “seek injunctive relief to protect (DCPS/OPS) students from vaping manufacturers, marketers, distributors, and to compensate for damages suffered by (DCPS/OPS) and (their) students as a result of the manufacture, marketing, sale and use of vaping and similar products, among other appropriate relief.”

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