TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Barbara Buono which would prohibit the sale of certain flavored cigarettes in the State of New Jersey was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 34-1.
“New Jersey invests a lot of money annually into programs designed to help people kick the smoking habit or educate kids so that they never light up in the first place,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “While the State is doing the right thing in funding smoking cessation and education programs, tobacco companies are constantly trying to recruit new customers and are targeting the next generation of potential smokers. New Jersey should not stand by and allow tobacco companies to use marketing schemes like flavored tobacco, which blatantly target kids to start smoking.”
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.
“Flavored cigarettes are a dangerous and insidious marketing ploy to ensure a constant flow of new tobacco customers – even in the face of the obvious negative health consequences associated with smoking,” said Senator Vitale. “Candy and fruit flavors are intended to make smoking more attractive, particularly to younger smokers who have yet to pick up the habit. We must ban these cigarettes in the Garden State, and take a stand against Big Tobacco’s efforts to ensnare a new generation of smokers.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration. An identical bill was unanimously approved by the Senate last session, but was not reviewed by the Assembly before the session ended.