TRENTON – Reacting to the surge in severe lung illnesses and reported deaths, Senate President Steve Sweeney today praised the efforts of fellow legislators to restrict the availability and use of flavored vaping products and said he will build on their efforts by proposing a phased-in ban on the sale of all electronic smoking devices.
“I support the efforts of Senator Turner and Senator Vitale to protect young people from the dangers of vaping,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “These initiatives could be the first steps towards a total ban on the sale of all vaping products, including e-cigarettes. I will propose a plan to phase out the sale of all vaping products over the next few years.”
The Sweeney plan would make New Jersey the first state in the nation to ban the sale of all electronic smoking devices, including nicotine cartridges and containers, as well as all other vapor products.
Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) has introduced legislation, S-3265, that would make New Jersey the second state after Michigan to prohibit the sale or distribution of flavored electronic smoking devices and related products, and Senator Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex) has authored a bill to limit the sales of e-cigarettes.
“The health and safety and even the lives of young people are at risk,” said Senator Sweeney. “The flavored products are targeted at teenagers and young adults with the intent of luring them into addiction. We should not allow another generation to get addicted to a product that lowers life expectancy and seriously damages their heart and lungs. Here is a product that we know is seriously harming the health of users, especially our youth.”
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, and a 2015 report from the National Health Interview Survey found that 40 percent of young e-cigarette users were never smokers before trying e-cigarettes.
Senator Sweeney noted that the New England Journal of Medicine declared that vaping is “clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response.”
“There is an urgency here with the health and safety – and even the lives – of young people at risk,” said Senator Sweeney. “That is why I will propose a complete ban on all vaping products.”
Just this week, the FDA criticized JUUL for illegally marketing e-cigarettes as less harmful than cigarettes. “JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth,” the FDA said in a letter to the e-cigarette company.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 450 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses in 33 states are under investigation by state and federal health officials. Six vaping-related deaths have been confirmed so far. In New Jersey three cases of vaping-related illnesses have been confirmed by the Department of Health and 19 others are under investigation.