Smoking Task Force Gives Recomendations to Limit E-Cig Use

Governor Phil Murphy announced recommendations and guidelines from the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force, which was created by Executive Order No. 84 and directed to formulate a comprehensive strategy within 21 days to protect New Jersey residents from the hazards of electronic cigarettes. These recommendations include the imposition of a ban by the Legislature on the sale of flavored electronic smoking devices and products.

“The recent spate of lung disease and deaths across the country due to electronic smoking device use is startling,” said Governor Murphy. “In just 21 days, the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force has set forth a comprehensive list of recommendations to protect New Jersey residents from the inherent dangers associated with vaping. My Administration will act swiftly to implement the Task Force’s recommendations and we ask our legislative partners to do the same. We must work together to protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s youth.”

“From a public health perspective, nicotine, a chemical considered as addictive as heroin or cocaine, is highly addictive in any form,” said New Jersey Department of Health Acting Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who chaired the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force. “Appealing to young people through flavored e-cigarettes must be stopped. Our overriding conclusion is that electronic smoking devices pose a threat to public health, particularly the health and well-being of youth.”

“Governor Murphy confronted the threat posed by electronic smoking devices by demanding swift action from across New Jersey state government,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “Acting Commissioner Persichilli and all of our partners on the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force delivered with a bold set of recommendations to protect our residents – and our kids in particular – from the risks associated with these products. As our government comes together to address this pressing public health issue, we in the Department of Law and Public Safety will continue our efforts to investigate potential violations of the law by vaping companies and take appropriate action.”

Recommendations outlined by the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force include:

Ban Sales of Flavored Electronic Smoking Devices and Products – The Task Force recommends that the Legislature impose a ban on the sale of flavored electronic smoking devices and products, inclusive of menthol.

Increase Penalties for Unauthorized Sales – The Task Force recommends that civil penalties be increased for retailers and employees who sell electronic smoking devices, vaping-related products, or other tobacco products to individuals under 21 years of age.

Restrict Online Sales – The Task Force recommends that the Legislature restrict the sale of electronic smoking devices and related products to face-to-face transactions, with limited exceptions.

Increase Compliance Buys – The Task Force supports the proactive efforts of the Office of Tobacco Control to increase compliance buys through the recruitment of additional resources, which should result in significant increases in compliance buy rates and curb youth access to tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Prohibit Advertising and Sale of Covert Products – The Task Force recommends explicitly prohibiting the advertising and sale to New Jersey consumers of products intended to conceal or disguise vaping devices as or within other products, such as clothing, accessories, utensils, or other electronic devices (such as watches).  Making the advertising and sale of these items a per se violation of the Consumer Fraud Act would authorize civil penalties of up to $10,000 for a first offense and $20,000 for subsequent offenses.  Alternatively, the Legislature could prohibit the sale of such items to individuals under 21 and without age verification required for the purchase of tobacco products.

Strengthen Point-of-Sale Practices – The Task Force recommends that the Legislature require electronic smoking device retailers to not only post signs that describe the prohibition on underage sales but also to implement point-of-sale protections such as locking up or otherwise securing electronic smoking devices and products out of reach of consumers.  Consideration also should be given to requiring dissemination of information to consumers at the point of sale.

Ensure Uniform Regulation of the Marketplace – The Task Force supports legislation that sets out a more comprehensive regulatory scheme covering all retail outfits that sell electronic smoking devices and products in the State. The Legislature should continue to vest authority for licensing of retailers who sell these products with the Department of Treasury, Division of Taxation and substantially increase licensure fees (currently set at $50 for vapor businesses). The Division should also consider limiting the types of retailers that may be licensed to sell electronic smoking devices and related products, with a particular focus on limiting licensure to those retailers that restrict entrance to individuals 21 and older.

Develop Centralized State Retailer Registry – The Task Force recommends creation of a centralized state registry of registered retail vaping establishments, which, in turn, can be used for expanding structured compliance buys, monitoring and enforcement efforts.

Increase Interagency Collaboration – The Task Force further recommends continued and enhanced interagency communication and coordination in ongoing efforts to determine the causes of youth usage and health problems associated with electronic smoking devices and products.

Additional Considerations – The Task Force recommends further study and consideration of the following proposals:

  • Development of a rapid response team in the Department of Health;
  • Expansion of the tax on vaping products;
  • Expansion of to become a central repository;
  • A requirement that retailers conduct electronic identification verification;
  • The establishment of a trackable database for the sale of electronic cigarette devices;
  • A possible menthol cigarette ban;
  • The issuance of standing orders for tobacco cessation therapies; and
  • A ban on electronic cigarettes with nicotine concentrations above 3 percent.

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