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Mississippi school district sues e-cigarette manufacturer

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The Jefferson County School District in southwest Mississippi has filed a lawsuit against e-cigarette manufacturers, joining more than a dozen other school districts across the country in an effort to curb vaping among teenagers.

Attorneys for the district are claiming manufacturer Juul Labs has engaged in deceptive advertising, according to the Associated Press. They hope to make the suit into a class action by including all the state’s school districts.

The suit also claims that vaping has undone years of progress to lower tobacco use among teenagers.

“This success has been the result of years of litigation and strict regulation,” the Jefferson County lawsuit states. “It is also due to the widespread and mainstream public health message that smoking kills people—a message that Big Tobacco can no longer dispute or contradict. This incredible progress towards eliminating youth tobacco and nicotine use has now largely been reversed due to e-cigarettes and vaping.”

School districts and individuals across the nation have filed suits against e-cigarette companies. Lawsuits have been filed in Arizona, California, Kansas, New York, North Carolina and several other states. The suits target Juul, which controls about 75 percent of the vaping market, but most also include the Altria Group, owners of the Marlboro brand. Juul’s revenues hit $1 billion in 2018, and the company expects their revenues to triple for 2019.

The number of lawsuits is escalating in light of vaping-related severe lung injuries and deaths under investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Dec. 3, 48 people have died and 2,291 have been hospitalized, and investigators have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of the injuries although both THC and vitamin E acetate are likely sources.

The Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed 11 cases of the illness and one death.

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