Nicotine usage prompts BOE to pursue legal services

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Schools Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness Matthew Sisk presented documentation regarding nicotine usage at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.

Sisk presented data dating from 2013, when e-cigarettes became available to purchase on a large scale. Sisk developed graphs that displayed trends of nicotine usage at both Buckhannon-Upshur High School and Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. Additionally, he provided a document titled “Resolution declaring that the distribution of Juul’s E-Cigarette product has created a public nuisance for the students and staff of Upshur County Board of Education, West Virginia.”

Data from this document showed that more than one in three West Virginia high school students report current use of electronic vapor products, which equates to a 150% increase from 2017 to 2019. The document also showed that, largely in part to Juul’s high-nicotine products, e-cigarette use among high school students has more than doubled from 2017 to 2019 and over 5.3 million kids in the United States used e-cigarettes in 2019 which is an increase of over three million in just two years.

“Juul was introduced in 2015 and the data shows that that is the first year that vapor products were seen in the schools,” said Sisk. “If you look at the numbers particularly for the years 2018 and 2019, you can see there was a large increase in nicotine usage in general meaning these products were reaching students who were not previously engaging in nicotine use at all.”

To combat the issue, camera footage is being reviewed. Sisk explained that bathrooms are the primary areas, in which vapes are being used because of the lack of cameras. “We are currently looking at some quotes from companies that have vape usage detectors for these areas as well as on our school buses,” said Sisk.

A class action lawsuit is in the works against e-cigarette companies including Juul. Sisk said, “I am asking for your approval to join this particular firm. Mr. Webb came highly recommended by the city.”

Sisk provided documentation of an Agreement for Legal Services for E-Cigarette Litigation which stated, “If no recovery by settlement or trial is obtained, client will not owe a legal fee or expenses.” It was noted that the law firm would receive 33% of the net recovery, after reimbursement and expenses, if a settlement is reached.

After a brief discussion, Katie Loudin made the first motion to approve and Dr. Greenbrier Almond came in to second the motion. Dr. Tammy Samples noted the motion carried and was approved.

Mr. Webb, who Sisk mentioned, is currently working on the Opioid Litigation Settlement for the City of Buckhannon. Webb and his law office, The Webb Law Centre, has been mentioned in previous editions regarding Buckhannon City Council meetings and the Opioid Litigation Settlement. Continue to follow The Record Delta for up-to-date information on both litigations.


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