TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would prohibit the sale of certain flavored cigarettes in the State of New Jersey was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee today by a vote of 10-0, with 1 abstention.
“Flavored cigarettes are a clear and apparent marketing ploy to attract younger generations to tobacco,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “This is no better than the use of colorful mascots or ad campaigns designed to appeal to kids which have historically been used by tobacco companies to recruit new customers. Given our State’s investment in smoking cessation programs and the harmful health effects of smoking which are paid for in our State’s health care system, we need to take a stand against this insidious marketing measure.”
The bill, S-613, would prohibit the sale or distribution of cigarettes which have a characterizing flavor that is attractive to youth. Specifically, the bill prohibits any cigarettes which either as a whole or in part are flavored with natural or artificial flavors to produce distinctive fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice flavors, among others. The bill exempts menthol or clove cigarettes from the prohibition, and does not apply to cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco or smokeless tobacco.
A person who violates the provisions of this bill would be liable for a civil penalty of not less than $250 for the first offense, not less than $500 for the second offense, and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.
“We all bear the cost of care for smoking-related illnesses, either through higher health insurance premiums to offset other patients’ care, or through increased claims on publicly-funded health care coverage, such as Medicaid, Medicare or charity care,” said Senator Vitale. “Before we even consider the human cost of smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer, respiratory illness or heart disease – and the impact that these diseases have not only on the individual but on family members and friends – simple dollars and cents motivation would be enough for us to want to reduce the number of smokers in New Jersey. Big Tobacco should not be given tacit approval to continue marketing their products, especially to children, and we must send the message that flavored cigarettes will not be tolerated.”
The bill now heads to the full Assembly for consideration. It was approved by a vote of 34-1 by the Senate in March.