On May 16, the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee heard more than three hours of testimony from a variety of groups on a bill — S.298, introduced by Senator Joe Vitale — that would prohibit the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes. New Jersey banned the sale of flavored traditional cigarettes in 2008 because of concerns regarding their attractiveness to children. The sponsor believes that the same concerns apply to electronic cigarettes today, making this legislation necessary to create uniformity in the state’s public health laws, all of which are designed to keep children from starting a smoking habit. Opponents contend that this bill would reduce adults’ access to a product that has enabled many tobacco-addicted people to quit smoking.
According to NCSL, 48 states and two territories currently prohibit sales of electronic cigarette products to minors. (Michigan and Pennsylvania still permit the sale of electronic cigarette products to minors.) In 2010, New Jersey was one of the first states to include electronic cigarettes among other tobacco items that would not be sold to minors when it expanded the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act.
S.298 was released from committee by a vote of 6-2 and now awaits action by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Several other bills that would impact the sale and availability of electronic cigarettes have been introduced in the legislature:
- A.617 (Lagana): Permits vapor lounges for use of electronic smoking devices to be opened under certain circumstances.
- A.831 (Jimenez): Establishes “Fund to Prevent Use of Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices”; supports activities to prevent use and promote awareness of associated health conditions.
- A.1815 (Conaway)/S.284 (Vitale): Increases wholesale sales and use tax rate on tobacco products, changes tax base, and requires licenses to conduct business in tobacco products.
- A.1832 (Conaway)/S.1235 (Vitale): Imposes a wholesale sales tax on electronic cigarettes and similar nicotine delivery products, changes tax base, and requires licenses to conduct business in tobacco products.
- A.2129 (O’Scanlon): Permits use of electronic smoking devices in vapor retail establishments.
- A.3704 (Conaway): Prohibits the sale or distribution of flavored electronic smoking devices.
- A.3792 (Vainieri Huttle): Prohibits sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at pharmacies.
- S.359 (Codey)/A.2320 (Vainieri Huttle): Raises minimum age for purchase and sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21.*
*This information was accessed through the New Jersey Legislature’s website.
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