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 Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today by a vote of 8-1.
“Smoking is a life-threatening habit, and anything we can do to discourage kids from picking up the habit is a step in the right direction,” said Senator Vitale. “The problem is that the entire time we’re discouraging young people from smoking, tobacco companies are coming up with new and inventive ways to draw in new customers. It would be hypocritical for the State to invest time, energy and money into smoking cessation programs while at the same time allowing tobacco companies to get away with flavored cigarettes and other marketing gimmicks specifically designed to get children to start smoking.”
“We understand that smoking leads to lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness and a number of additional health issues later in life,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “With our current understanding of the dangers of smoking, we have to oppose any efforts by the tobacco industry to market their products to younger generations.”
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 transparent attempt to market smoking to children,” said Senator Buono. “With all the money we’ve invested in educating kids on the dangers of smoking, we shouldn’t allow anything to undo all the progress we’ve made.”
“Flavored cigarettes are a sales gimmick brought to you by the same minds that thought Joe Camel was a good idea,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health panel. “Offering cigarettes in various candy flavors is a blatant attempt by the tobacco industry to recruit children into a life of smoking, and all the negative health consequences that such a life carries. We need to ban these cigarettes from New Jersey’s stores, and stand against any marketing campaign which would attract children to such a dangerous habit.”
The bill was unanimously approved by the full Senate last session, but did not receive Assembly consideration before the end of the session. It now heads to the full Senate for review.