Natrona County School District Agrees to Sue Vaping Company
The Natrona County School District's board of trustees on Monday voted to sue the major manufacturer of vaping products.
District attorney Craig Silva said trustees recently have had discussions about students and vaping, the use of an electronic device that vaporizes chemicals often containing nicotine that are inhaled by the user. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal and state agencies are investigating the injuries on the lungs.
Nationally, one of every three high school students is vaping, Silva said.
In Natrona County, about 60 percent of high school students are regularly vaping, he said.
The school district has been dealing with disciplinary issues regarding vaping.
A Jackson attorney, Jason Ochs, who previously practiced in Casper has proposed that the school district enter an agreement with him to enter litigation against Juul Labs, the largest manufacturer of vaping products, Silva said.
"What that means if you do that is you're going to be the lead school district in the state," he said.
About eight states have entered such litigation, Silva added.
Trustee Dave Applegate said he doesn't like litigation, but said some companies can be bad actors.
"A company that appears at least to make a conscious effort to get children addicted to nicotine, which we all know has a storied history in this country that causes a great deal of health effects and early death, I think is worthy of us participating in this," Applegate said.
"We've got enough information I believe from police and teachers that this is a severe problem, and I believe is taking advantage of young people and their susceptibility to ... think it's cool, their inability to evaluate all of the risks, and therefore I believe we should enter into this," Applegate said.
Participating in the litigation would not involve the district making any financial commitments, he added. "The financial risks are borne by the attorneys."
Trustees Angela Coleman and Kianna Smith voted against the proposal.
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