W.Va. JUUL’s trial extends to five counties | West Virginia
PRINCETON – A Mercer County lawsuit that seeks to prevent the vaping industry from marketing its products to teens is now in court.
“The lawsuit was officially filed on Monday,” County Commissioner Greg Puckett said on Wednesday. “Mercer County was the first in the state.
The county commission voted earlier this year to join the JUUL lawsuit and is represented in the case by attorney Rusty Webb of the Webb Law Center.
In the lawsuit, it is alleged that the makers of electronic cigarettes – JUUL being the primary manufacturer – marketed vaping “to teens as safer and less addictive than cigarettes,” Webb said in an earlier report.
In addition to Mercer County, Puckett said Greenbrier, Raleigh, Gilmer and Mineral counties have all signed the lawsuit.
“In the coming weeks, it is expected that Pocahontas, Braxton, Calhoun and Putnam will also sign,” Puckett said.
Between 2017 and 2019, the number of high school students using e-cigarettes increased by 150%, Webb said in the previous report.
In addition, in 2019, 35.7% of high school students in the country used e-cigarettes.
Puckett said vaping is becoming an epidemic among young people in the region.
“What this (trial) does is it empowers businesses and shows kids that (vaping) is no less harmful tool,” Puckett said.
Part of the problem right now is that there are no regulations around vape shops and vaping companies, Puckett said.
“It comes down to the responsibility and regulatory issues around building permits,” Puckett said. “They could (right now) put a business in the middle of the mountain.”
The commission voted 2-1 in October to join the trial. Puckett and Commissioner Bill Archer seconded the motion, with Commission Chairman Gene Buckner voting no.
“There is a part of the contract that says (Webb Law Center) gets 33% of the gross collection and if they spend money on detectives or anyone who works outside they get paid 35 $ per hour, “Buckner said during the previous meeting. “It comes from gross income, what the county would get out of it.”
Instead, the law firm should get “33% from the top and leave the rest out,” Buckner said at that previous meeting.
– Contact Charles Owens at [email protected]