TRENTON, NJ -- "Stop selling electronic cigarettes. Stop targeting minors". That was the message sent on Thursday by the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force created by Governor Phil Murphy in delivering their recommendations and guidelines to protect New Jersey residents from the hazards of electronic cigarettes. Chief among the recommendations is a ban 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."
Recommendations outlined by the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force include: banning sales of flavored electronic smoking devices and products, inclusive of menthol; increase penalties on retailers and employees who sell electronic smoking devices, vaping-related products, or other tobacco products to individuals under 21 years of age; restrict the sale of electronic smoking devices and related products to face-to-face transactions; increase compliance buys; prohibit advertising and sale of covert products, such as clothing, accessories, utensils, or other electronic devices (such as watches); strengthen point-of-sale practices by locking up or securing devices and products out of reach of consumers; ensure uniform regulation of the marketplace; develop a centralized state retailer registry; increase interagency collaboration to determine the causes of youth usage and health problems associated with electronic smoking devices and products.
On Tuesday, the state Department of Health (DOH) reported the first death associated with vaping in New Jersey. The agency said that the total number of confirmed and probable cases of serious lung disease in the state has risen to 14.
"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."
In addition to the explicit recommendations, the Task Force Report also noted several areas that need to be studied and considered such as expanding the tax on vaping products, establishing a trackable database for the sale of electronic cigarette devices; banning menthol cigarettes, issuing standing orders for tobacco cessation therapies, and banning electronic cigarettes with nicotine concentration above three percent.
According to DOH, there are have been more than 800 confirmed and probable cases of severe lung illnesses reported nationally in 46 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There have been approximately 13 deaths in 11 states.
The state has launched an online site on vaping and electronic cigarettes at VapeFactsNJ.com.