NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation on Tuesday to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to impose a permanent ban on flavored vape products. The legislation (S3265) prohibits the sale and distribution of flavored vape products, including menthol.

According to the press release submitted by the Governor’s office, the Legislature passed the bill based on a recommendation from Governor Murphy’s Electric Smoking Device Task Force. The task force was directed to formulate a comprehensive strategy to protect New Jerseyans from the hazards of electronic cigarettes.

“As Governor, I am first and foremost charged with protecting the health and safety of our people,” Murphy said. “Research shows that flavored electronic smoking devices and products, such as mint, candy, fruit, and chocolate, are extremely appealing, especially to children.”

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While not singling out flavored vape pens, local Barnegat authorities have already expressed concerns about students who vape.

At the beginning of the school year, Barnegat Superintendent of School Brian Latwis shared his observations. “Some of the kids don’t even know what’s in the vape pens,” he said.

The new legislation will definitely impact business in the vape shops currently operating in Barnegat and Waretown.  “We’ll be basically limited to selling hardware and tobacco flavored vapes,” explained John Moussette, manager of Vapor Shark in Barnegat.

As Moussette sees it, the new legislation will create a larger black market. People will turn to the internet to find the product. In the meantime, the ban will make it more difficult for small shops to sustain business.

“Flavored vapes themselves aren’t the issue,” Moussette said. “That’s not what’s driving use. The FDA already banned the prefilled cartridges as they’re the ones popular with kids.”

Notably, Vapor Shark has strict policies when it comes to children and the sale of their products. No one under the age of 21 is even permitted in the store.

The CDC has identified the problems associated with vaping and use-associated lung injuries. Their conclusions focus on Vitamin E acetate as an additive, primarily found in THC-containing e-cigarettes and not in regular nicotine e-pens.

Meanwhile, state legislators who signed the bill banning flavored vapes focused on the potential hazards of nicotine. “The nicotine in e-cigarettes is just as harmful as that of traditional cigarettes, yet many people may not realize just how detrimental nicotine really is for anyone under the age of 25,” said Assemblywoman Carol Murphy.

 However, it’s not only children who use vape pens. And, according to Moussette, some adults vape to wean themselves off cigarettes. “Over ninety percent of the people who vape use pens that contain only 0,3, or 6 mg. of nicotine,” Moussette said. “The average cigarette has over 20 mg, so vaping is a much safer alternative.”

While Johns Hopkins agrees that vaping can be safer than smoking, it considers other issues with its use. Notably, electronic cigarettes haven’t been approved as smoking cessation devices.

Vapor Shark store owner Jamie Desposito can only relate to what she’s seen in Barnegat and Waretown. “Over the years, I’ve had customers come in and hug me and thank me for changing their lives for the better.”

They’ve actually brought me in scans of their lungs before and after changing from cigarettes to vaping,” Desposito said. “It’s been one of my greatest life accomplishments to help so many people quit smoking.”