Aspen School District receives $9,000 in nationwide Juul settlement funds
The Aspen School District will receive about $9,744 in legal settlement funds from a nationwide class action lawsuit against Juul Labs, an e-cigarette company that is owned by Altria Group, which owns companies that produce Marlboros and Skoal, among many other tobacco products.
The school board approved the funds in its meeting on Wednesday night. The district may use the funds to fight youth vaping, Superintendent Dave Baugh said. For example, it may use the funds to pay for vape detection devices that were recently implemented in the middle and high schools and paid for with general funds.
The district is one of hundreds across the country receiving a portion of the $168 million settlement. Aspen School District joined the lawsuit in 2020 to fight against what health officials have called a vaping epidemic among teenagers. Baugh said ski towns in Colorado are “ground zero” for the vaping epidemic.
Juul has received extensive criticism for marketing toward teens and causing an increase in youth vaping. In 2022, Juul announced it would pay $438.5 million in a settlement with 33 states over marketing its product to teens.
“While we’re not getting a lot of money from the Altria settlement, it sends a message to this industry that needs to be sent that companies should not be making money off of our kids,” said Aspen School Board Secretary Stacey Weiss during Wednesday’s meeting.
In March, the district agreed to receive $32,000 from the settlement, but it will ultimately receive only $9,744 after lawyer fees are paid. San Francisco-based Frantz Law Group took the case on a contingency basis, and it is receiving compensation because the district prevailed in the case.
In 2019, Aspen became the first city in Colorado to ban the sale of all flavored nicotine products in an attempt to curb teen vaping. The City Council at the time passed the ordinance after receiving support from Aspen High School principals, the Colorado School of Public Health, Aspen Valley Health, and other health-care professionals across the state.
Over 1,500 school districts across the country will receive settlement funds from Altria Group. The allocation of funds was based on student population and the amount of schools in the districts.
The school district also joined districts across the country in March in suing social media companies over the effect they can have on the mental health of students.
Students at Roaring Fork High School heard oral arguments made to a three-judge panel of Colorado Court of Appeals Tuesday as part of the Colorado Court of Appeals’ Courts in the Community program.