County Executive says it’s all about protecting public health.
Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County has joined a class action lawsuit against electronic cigarette manufacturers. County Executive Jan Gardner says the point is to hold these manufacturers accountable for marketing an addictive product to young people, especially teenagers. “We have worked very hard to encourage teens and pre-teens not to engage in smoking tobacco products,” she says. “Now we have a new product that has proven to be dangerous and have public health impacts on young people.”
Gardner says these manufacturers have lured youth to try vaping with flavors such as strawberry milkshake, cotton candy and popcorn. “These electronic smoking devices, or vapes, have a very high nicotine content and are actually very addictive,”:: she says.
The use of e-cigarettes has been a problem among some Frederick County public school students. “I actually have received an e-mail from a principle telling me that they’ve starting a ‘juuling’ cessation program in their school, working with the Health Department,”: says Gardner.
The county’s participation in this class action suit has the support of Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Theresa Alban. “The Board of Education of Frederick County desires to maintain a safe, healthy and productive environment free of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs,”: Dr. Alban says in a statement. “Vpaing with Juul’s e-cigarettes is not only a major health concern for our students, it’s also a distraction in our school environment.”
Gardner cited a report from the National Adolescent Drug Trend report which says the use of electronic smoking devices, or vaping, has grown to nearly 80% during 2017–2018. “It really is a growing issue of concern, and we really want to raise that and make sure that we do what we can to protect our youth,”: says Gardner.
As for monetary damages, Gardner said. “there will be damages and abatement costs for harm. These class action suits can take a long time. They can actually change levels of court where they are. That’s yet to be seen,” she responded.
The suit has been filed against Juul Labs, Inc., and Altria Group, which is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, and holds a 35% stake in Juul.
Frederick County has retained the law firm of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd in this case, which is being litigated in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
By Kevin McManus