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Our lawmakers are right: It’s time to ban menthol cigarettes | Editorial

Editorial Board | October 27, 2019 | Star-Ledger |


The chilling vape scare, which has claimed one life in New Jersey, sent 20 people to the hospital, and placed 35 others under medical scrutiny, demands a robust government response. Accordingly, the governor’s task force has issued more than a dozen recommendations, the legislature is drafting bills, and the entire health community is on red alert.

Some lawmakers believe this is a good time to learn Chinese — notably, how that culture uses the same symbol for both crisis and opportunity.

The mysterious lung illnesses associated with vaping are alarming, and we applaud the pending effort to ban flavored e-cigarettes on both the state and national level. But this is also a chance to right another wrong, and go after another tobacco product that kills thousands of New Jerseyans a year.

Our state can do what the FDA has failed to do, and ban menthol cigarettes, which would be the most important tobacco reduction action ever taken. This particular poison is the worst of all gateway drugs: Half of all smokers under 18 choose menthols because it’s cooling sensation makes it easier to ignore the damage; ultimately, studies show menthols are harder to quit.

“Vaping is the immediate challenge,” concedes Senate Health Committee chairman Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), who will fold a menthol ban into the anti-vaping package that will be debated next month, “but we must do more to reduce the threat of all tobacco products.”


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