ITHACA, N.Y.—The Ithaca City School District (ICSD) is set to receive a $8,208 settlement payout in a class action lawsuit against e-cigarette companies.
The district’s Board of Education voted Tuesday to pave the way for the district to accept the payout. The lawsuit alleges tobacco company Altria fostered a “vaping epidemic” among teens. Altria, which owns part of e-cigarette company Juul, was accused of deliberately marketing vape products to teens.
ICSD is among at least 6,000 co-plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, which is estimated to cost Altria at least $235 million. Roughly a quarter of ICSD’s co-plaintiffs are school districts.
Deputy Superintendent Lily Talcott said the district signed on to be a plaintiff in the lawsuit months ago.
One student representative at the Oct. 10 meeting expressed dismay that accepting the settlement would bar the district from seeking additional legal action against the tobacco companies.
“If schools keep ceding to these companies’ demands, the problems get worse,” one student said. “These companies have so much money, they can dole out small amounts to every school district and still be fine.”
The student also criticized the relatively small size of the settlement payment.
“On the ground as a student, it does feel like there are real and significant concerns and just getting $8,000 really isn’t going to cut it,” one Ithaca High School student said during the Oct. 10 board meeting.
New York banned the sale of flavored nicotine vape products in 2020. People under the age of 21 cannot purchase vape products or any other smoking paraphernalia in New York and advertisements for vape products cannot be posted within 500 feet of a school.