E-cigarette use by youth has been described as a public health epidemic. In 2018, e-cigarette usage increased by 78 percent among 12th graders. Youth in Colorado and Boulder County, in particular, have some of the highest rates of nicotine use in the nation. Nicotine in e-cigarettes is a known addictive, psychoactive neurotoxin that poses a potent threat to the adolescent brain.
JUUL Labs manufactures and sells e-cigarettes that are designed specifically to appeal to minors, and, for several years, has directly targeted minors with slick marketing and a robust social media campaign.
Because of this public health crisis affecting youth in Boulder County, the Boulder County Commissioners have elected to join federal multi-district litigation (MDL) against JUUL Labs, Inc. and any associated parties related to manufacturing, marketing, and sales of e-cigarettes designed to appeal to minors.
Statement from the Board of County Commissioners
In the past few years, a public health crisis has emerged regarding the use of e-cigarettes and nicotine products among our youth. Colorado and Boulder County, in particular, have been hard hit.
Youth in Boulder County are using nicotine and vaping products at rates that are among the highest in the state and nation (33% compared to 26% and 13% respectively). As community leaders, we feel it is essential to take a stand against JUUL’s practices of promoting the use of their tobacco products to young people in our community.
It has been demonstrated that early initiation of any substance is highly predictive of ongoing use and dependence as adults, with 95% of adult smokers reporting they initiated using tobacco products before the age of 21 years. JUUL’s appeal to young people through their youth-oriented e-cigarette advertising campaigns, youth friendly flavors, and sleek products has put greater strains and risk on our youth of becoming addicted to nicotine, at a very young age, and potentially create long-term health consequences.
We are hopeful that the outcome of this lawsuit will allow us to more fully respond to the impacts of e-cigarettes on Boulder County youth now and into the future.
– Board of County Commissioners
Boulder County, Colorado
The U.S. Surgeon General, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the former FDA Commissioner, and the Health and Human Services Secretary have all squarely pointed to JUUL Labs as the primary cause of the current nicotine epidemic among youth.
This epidemic will continue to have significant social costs. Nicotine addiction has significant health care costs, and science is beginning to show that e-cigarettes can even cause more; Vaping is now linked to conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and even seizures.
Currently, there are over 200 lawsuits filed against JUUL Labs and related entities. many of which have been aggregated into a single proceeding in San Francisco. The law firm of Keller Rohrback represents multiple government entities in the JUUL Labs MDL, including other counties and school districts. (Reference: An an example of a lawsuit filed by Skagit County, Washington.)
Given this epidemic, and the public health costs associated with it, Boulder County has agreed to work with Keller Rohrback, LLP to become a party to the lawsuit against JUUL Labs and associated entities.