Pinellas County has become the fourth school district in Florida to join a lawsuit against Juul, a major manufacturer of e-cigarette devices that critics say marketed to kids while downplaying the health risks of its products.
The School Board voted unanimously during a virtual meeting Tuesday, where schools superintendent Mike Grego praised members for their “attention and desire for safety for our young people.” He called the vaping trend an attack on local students.
Data shows that vaping among Pinellas students has grown substantially in recent years. Those as young as sixth grade have been found using the products in school hallways and bathrooms, sometimes even in class. Enrollment in the county’s tobacco clinic, meant for kids caught with smoking products on campus, has spiked 738 percent in the last two years.
The same trend is playing out in other communities. Nearly 100 school systems nationwide have joined the lawsuit Pinellas is now a part of, including those in Palm Beach, Brevard and Seminole counties in Florida. They are all represented by The Maher Law Firm, based in Winter Park.
According to an agreement with the firm, there is no cost to Pinellas to join the lawsuit. It’s “truly a no-risk scenario for the school district,” School Board attorney David Koperski said at the meeting Tuesday.
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