LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) — Greenbrier County is joining a coalition of four other counties to fight against e-cigarette use among young children. The Greenbrier County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday, November 23, 2021 to declare JUUL and e-cigarettes a public nuisance because of addiction issues with school-aged children.
“Vaping has caught on,” Commission President Lowell Rose said. “Kids think it is the coolest thing in the world, they like the little kick or high off the nicotine, they do not realize they get hooked on that.”
Mercer County was the first to join the lawsuit with Webb Law Center in Charleston. Raleigh, Gilmer, Mineral counties and the Tucker County Boards of Education are also part of the lawsuit. Charles Webb is heading up the legal case against JUUL, he said he is taking a similar approach to opioid lawsuits in the state
Webb said JUUL convinced people that e-cigarettes are healthier and less addictive than tobacco and cigarettes, which led to an increase in use among young adults and students in what he calls a pandemic.
“Our lawsuit hopes to get monies to assist county commissions who can then distribute it to their boards of health and county boards of education who can then, both of whom, can engage in prevention and treatment of this epidemic,” Webb said.
According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, more than 1 in 3 West Virginia high school students report current use of e-cigarettes marking a 150 percent increase from 2017 to 2019. Nationally, the DHHR reports 27.5 percent of high school students report regular use of vaping products, a 135 percent increase from 2017.
Rose said the lawsuit will come at no cost to taxpayers. If any money comes into the county from the lawsuit, he said it will be allocated towards stopping addiction to vaping and e-cigarettes among children.
“Any funds that come into the county from that would go either back to the school system for programming or the health department for programming to help get the kids off of vaping and nicotine.”
Webb said the lawsuit is based in Northern California with a coalition of other states also suing JUUL. North Carolina won a landmark $40 million settlement with the vaping company in June after filing a lawsuit accusing the company of targeting young people.