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 Senate today by a vote of 34-4, receiving final legislative approval.
“Flavored cigarettes are a marketing gimmick from the same companies that brought you Joe Camel and other cartoon mascots for tobacco products,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “They blatantly appeal to children and young adults, and are intended to encourage younger generations to pick up the smoking habit. Given the State’s interest in helping people kick the habit, flavored cigarettes isn’t something we should give silent approval to in New Jersey.”
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 pay the cost of care for people who smoke, whether through increased premiums to subsidize smokers, or Medicaid or Charity Care for uninsured smokers,” said Senator Vitale. “New Jersey faces a substantial monetary cost due to smoke-related illnesses, even before you consider the human cost in terms of long-term respiratory and cardiac illness or death for family members and friends who smoke. We owe it to future generations to be honest about the negative health effects of smoking, and cannot look the other way when tobacco companies use marketing ploys like flavored cigarettes to glamorizing smoking to draw in new customers.”
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. It was approved by the Assembly earlier today, by a vote of 68-9 with one abstention.