OLATHE, Kan. — Olathe Public Schools Board of Education announced Friday after a special board meeting that they will take legal action against electronic cigarette manufacturer JUUL as part of their mission to combat the vaping epidemic among students.
Olathe Public Schools Board of Education President Shannon Wickliffe said the board of education has a duty to do what’s right for students, the community and future generations.
“Vaping is an epidemic, and as community leaders, we’re taking the lead to protect our students and future leaders,” Wickliffe said. “The hidden dangers of vaping are triggering a health crisis, and we’re taking action.”
According to the U.S. surgeon general, more than 3.6 million middle school and high school students reported using e-cigarettes last year alone — that’s up 78 percent from 2018 among high school students alone.
Olathe Public Schools Superintendent John Allison added that, in addition to health concerns, e-cigarettes are a significant disruptions in classrooms.
“Our role as a public school district is to provide our students with the best educational environment to help them learn and grow. To protect our students is paramount,” Allison said. “Middle and high school students, we believe, have been targeted by e-cigarette and vaping manufacturers with false and misleading advertising. Vaping has caused a significant disruption in our buildings.”
He also said that he believes students do not fully understand the long-term consequences of vaping and the chemicals involved.
“The Olathe School District is taking action against the vaping epidemic. The top priority of our district is the safety and well-being of its students and staff,” the district said in their statement. “Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices pose a significant threat to student health with misleading advertisements targeted toward middle and high school students. It is the district’s responsibility to protect its students.”
According to the district, this lawsuit is the responsibility of their legal counsel. It will not require them to allocate financial resources.