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Senator Vitale

TRENTON – Legislation aimed at regulating the sale or distribution of flavored electronic smoking devices and the sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at pharmacies cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

The first bill, S-298, sponsored by Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vitale, would expand the current law banning the sale or distribution of flavored cigarettes in flavors other than tobacco, clove or menthol to electronic smoking devices and their components, including cartridges or liquid refills. As defined in the bill, “electronic smoking device” means an electronic device that can be used to deliver nicotine or other substances to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, or pipe. The bill would also extend to hookahs.

“Studies have shown that vaping has grown increasingly popular among teenagers, and is often the precursor to moving on to traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “The candy and fruity flavors have helped make them particularly appealing to this age group. We can’t just put our heads in the sand and say that this industry isn’t targeting teens and youth.”

The bill would also amend the penalty section of the law to clarify that law enforcement officers or officials authorized to enforce State or local health codes are now required to issue summonses for violations of the law, and are required to enforce the penalty provisions specified by law. The bill would also clarify that upon recommendation of a municipality, and following a hearing, the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury is also now required to suspend or revoke a retailer’s license after two or more violations of the law.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States each year, responsible for over 480,000 deaths each year.

The second bill, S-2135, sponsored by Senator Vitale and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, would prohibit the sale of all tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at pharmacies in New Jersey.

“Historically and to this day, pharmacies have held the important role of making and dispensing medicine to patients in the community and providing them with health advice to help them get well,” said Senator Vitale. “With tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, it’s antithetical that pharmacies sell tobacco products and smoking devices.”

“Banning the sale of tobacco and smoking devices is not only wise, but is consistent with what pharmacies stand for and the mission that they serve – promoting health,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “Reducing convenient access to cigarettes will yield positive public health results for residents.”

In 2014, CVS/pharmacy led the nation’s pharmacies by announcing that it was banning tobacco products from all its stores. Since it stopped selling tobacco in its stores, the company reported favorable results on the public health outcomes on its decision on the ban. Since 2008, cities across the country, such as San Francisco and Boston, have enacted laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

The bills, S-298 and S-2135, cleared the Senate Health Committee with a vote of 6-2-1 and 7-2, respectively.

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