School board approves settlement against e-cigarettes maker

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published November 17, 2023

Shutterstock image


WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS — Earlier this month, the Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education approved a settlement offer for government entity claims against Altria Group, the maker of JUUL e-cigarettes.

The motion was approved 7-0 at the Nov. 1 school board meeting, and the district is expected to receive a settlement amount of $101,494. District officials plan to use the settlement money to fund anti-vaping programs, training, workshops and seminars in the district.

“We are pleased with the settlement and anxious to bring anti-vaping programs to our students and community,” district Superintendent Robert Livernois said in a prepared statement. “Our highest priority has always been student safety and well-being. JUUL, to the detriment of our students, has been marketing directly to teens to get them addicted to their product. Like many school districts, we have seen first-hand the devastating effects of vaping on our children and enough is enough.”

According to school officials, the law allows school districts to hold companies responsible for the damage they cause to society through its products. Last year, WCS joined with several districts across the country to sue the e-cigarette maker JUUL.

According to Livernois, the settlement accepted is with Altria, which was once part of JUUL. The company has since separated from JUUL and settled their portion of the suit.

David Sutton, a media relations representative for Altria, commented on the settlement via email.

“We believe resolving this case is in the best interest of Altria and our shareholders and have agreed to settle it to avoid the costs and uncertainty of further litigation,” he said. “We no longer maintain an economic interest in JUUL and believe that the claims asserted against us in this and other JUUL-related litigation are without merit.”

Wagstaff & Cartmell, a Kansas City-based law firm, fought against JUUL — along with a coalition of four other law firms — by applying the same public nuisance law used to combat opioid manufacturers, the press release states.

Headquartered in San Francisco, JUUL sells various vaping products. According to the company’s website,, a JUULpod is the cartridge that clicks into the top of the JUUL device and contains a proprietary nicotine salt-based e-liquid formula.

The goal was “to develop a vaping experience comparable to a cigarette, that would provide a satisfying experience and flavor.” The website states the JUULpod flavors are Virginia tobacco and menthol.

“WCS still has a forthcoming settlement from JUUL, which has not yet been announced.

“The JUUL lawsuit has been settled but we cannot yet release the details per the terms of it,” Livernois said via email. “A key aspect of our decision to join the lawsuit was this intentional marketing toward children.”

Attempts to reach a few of the law firms that represent JUUL for comment were unsuccessful.

Livernois added student use of vape “has steadily increased” since the legalization of marijuana in Michigan.

In an effort to educate students and parents about vaping, school officials held a teen vaping awareness and social media consequence workshop last spring inside the Sterling Heights High School Performing Arts Center. The district’s high school police resource officers, several school counselors and Natalie Waske, of CARE of Southeastern Michigan, discussed the dangers of tobacco, vaping and social media pranks.

“With vape and marijuana now legal in Michigan for adults aged 21 or older, it has become normalized in our society, which has had a tremendous impact on children’s perception and use of it.  If their parents and other adults are using, it must be okay for them to do it,” Livernois said. “As such, we have seen an increase in student vaping, especially given the concealability of it.”