Lincoln schools to be first in state to join vaping lawsuit

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lincoln Public Schools is set to become the first Nebraska school district to join hundreds of other districts across the county in suing a major vaping company.

The Lincoln Board of Education on Tuesday gave its lawyers approval to file a federal lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc., the Lincoln Journal Star reported. The lawsuit, like others, accuses Juul of creating a highly addictive product and targeting young people with fruity and minty flavors and easily concealed pods.

Lincoln officials said the lawsuit will be filed in Nebraska’s U.S. District Court and later consolidated with lawsuits from 22 states in a California federal court.

The lawsuits seek unspecified monetary damages to help schools with prevention efforts such as vaping detectors, supervision, counselors and education efforts. The also seek injunctive relief to stop the company from marketing to young people, including selling vaping pods in appealing flavors.

Lawsuits filed by other districts say the number of high school seniors nationally who reported consuming nicotine doubled between 2017 and 2018. In Lincoln's public schools, the number of students caught possessing or using vaping products more than doubled from the 2017-18 school year to the 2019-20 year, jumping from 139 to 376, district officials said.

Juul declined to comment Wednesday on the Lincoln lawsuit, but said in a written statement Wednesday that it had halted advertising and taken other steps to “seek to earn the trust of society" to reduce underage use of its products.