TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale which would prohibit the sale of flavored cigarettes in New Jersey was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0.
“As more and more information comes to light about the health effects of smoking, tobacco companies rely increasingly on sales gimmicks to reach potential customers,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “However, where we once had cartoon spokespeople like Joe Camel and high-profile movie placements, we’re now seeing the tobacco industry turn to flavored cigarettes to bring in customers while they’re young. We need to outlaw this latest tactic from Big Tobacco, to allow our kids to see past the marketing gimmicks and realize that cigarettes kill.”
Under the bill, S-1400, New Jersey merchants would be prohibited from selling flavored cigarettes. The bill would impose a minimum penalty of $250 on a retailer for the first violation, $500 for a second violation, and $1,000 for the third or subsequent violations. The bill also would provide that after the second violation, a municipality may recommend to the Division of Taxation that the retailer’s license to sell tobacco products be revoked.
“The State has an obligation to the health of our residents to help keep people away from cigarettes,” said Senator Vitale. “Flavored cigarettes are particularly targeted towards the youth of New Jersey, to hook the next generation of potential smokers before the negative health effects of smoking sink in. We need to protect our kids from dangerous marketing that tries to wrap the poison of cigarette-smoking in a colorful candy shell.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly, where it is pending consideration by the Assembly Health and Senior Citizens Committee.