TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey and Senator Linda R. Greenstein that would prohibit the sale and distribution of liquid nicotine unless it is sold in a child-resistant container passed the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
Under the bill (S-2877), liquid nicotine, commonly used in e-cigarettes, that is sold, offered for sale, given, furnished, or distributed must be in a container that is designed and constructed so that it is significantly difficult for a child five years or younger to open.
“The dangers of accidental exposure to liquid nicotine are undeniably serious for children and, tragically, we are seeing an increase in kids coming into contact with these products. Last year alone, there were more than 3,600 calls made to poison centers across the country to report exposure, more than double those received the previous year. If we can do anything to prevent a tragedy from occurring, we should,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex and Morris). “Ensuring containers that hold liquid nicotine are child-resistant is one way to protect children from unsafe exposure should these containers fall within reach.”
Liquid nicotine used to refill electronic cigarettes is sold in cartridges, vials, and small bottles that are not required to be childproof. According to the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics, the amount of nicotine in some small 15-milliliter bottles of e-liquid is enough to kill four small children. E-cigarette and liquid nicotine-related calls to the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) rose from nine in 2011 to 45 in 2014, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
“By requiring child-resistant containers for the sale of liquid nicotine in New Jersey, we can safeguard against children’s accidental exposure to this dangerous poison,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex and Mercer). “The vials containing this toxic substance are often colorful and marketed in candy and fruity flavors that attract a curious child’s eyes, and not having this safety measure puts children at great risk of serious harm.”
New York passed a similar law last December following the death of an 18-month-old boy from Fort Plain after he accidentally drank liquid nicotine, making his death the first in New York and in the country attributed to liquid nicotine.
Under the bill, violations would be punishable by a civil penalty of not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation, and $1,000 for the third and each subsequent violation. Additionally, upon recommendation of a municipality involved following a hearing by that municipality, the Division of Taxation in the Department of Treasury may suspend or revoke the license of a retail dealer for violations.
The committee approved the legislation by a vote of 9-0.