By Anica Padilla

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The Boulder Valley School District filed a lawsuit against e-cigarette makers JUUL and Altria this week for “deceptive and misleading youth targeting and devastating injuries.”

Electronic cigarettes and pods by Juul vaping

Electronic cigarettes and pods by Juul (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The lawsuit alleges that JUUL and Altria designed electronic cigarette products to “create and sustain addiction, particularly among young people,” and violated Colorado law and the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).

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The complaint also alleges the companies use youth-targeted marketing programs intended to create “an entire new generation of nicotine-addicted customers.”

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BVSD Superintendent Dr. Rob Anderson said they have had students as young as fourth grade who have been treated for nicotine addiction related to vaping.

“Coupled with a marketing scheme designed to mislead the public, including youth, into believing JUUL products contained less nicotine than they actually do and were healthy and safe, JUUL and Altria successfully sowed the seeds of a new public health crisis with a particularly insidious focus on youthful e-smokers,” BVSD officials said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Anica Padilla