WESTFIELD, NJ — With a rising number of vaping-related illnesses and one death confirmed in New Jersey, town officials are anticipated to approve a new set of rules for the sale of electronic smoking devices.
The town’s Board of Health on Monday introduced the regulations seeking to prevent the sale of vaping products to people under 21. The proposed law is based on rules Morristown approved. A public hearing for the measure is set for next month, prior to its anticipated final adoption. Health officials are concerned about both legal and illegal vaping products.
“Regulated products are bad, too. We’re getting lots of hospitalizations for individuals who have no history of using these black market products, who have no history of smoking unregulated substances,” said Megan Avallone, director of the Westfield Regional Health Department. “It is concerning because individuals think they’re doing things correctly, and they’re still in real danger.”
As early as last May health officials in Westfield had been looking at legislation to help keep vaping products out of the hands of children. On Monday, officials approved the law's first draft by a unanimous vote. If approved, it would then take effect 60 days after the public hearing set for Dec. 2.
The proposed law in Westfield would prohibit gas stations, retail food establishments and liquor stores from selling vaping products. It also would prohibit persons under 21 from entering the portion of a store in which vaping products are sold. Existing establishments selling vaping products along with other items would have to set up a separate space in their stores for the vaping products, officials said.
The law further prohibits a store from masking the smell of vaping products with another odor.
“No retail electronic smoking device establishment shall use any device within its establishment to mask or conceal any characterizing flavor or smell of any electronic smoking liquid and or/tobacco product,” the regulations state.
In May 2018, school officials in Westfield expressed concern about vaping, then saying that the majority of students removed from school for disciplinary reasons in a four-month span were removed because they used e-cigarettes. The Westfield High school newspaper, the Hi’s Eye, had reported an alarming rise in students’ use of e-cigarettes.
Under the proposed law, businesses must be licensed with the Health Department to sell vaping products and anyone who sells tobacco products or electronic smoking devices to a person under 21 faces up to a $2,000 fine and is subject to having their license revoked.
This month, New Jersey Health Officials reported the first New Jersey death associated with the national vaping outbreak.
Reviewing the new regulations, Board of Health President Dr. Lawrence Budnick asked about the timeline for a hearing that an establishment caught violating the regulations would have to appear before the board. It could require the board to convene outside of its usual monthly schedule.
“I can think of only two establishments that will be able to sell and for those two establishments, I do think that holding a special meeting is fair,” Avallone replied.
A public hearing for the ordinance is set for Monday, Dec. 2. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the council conference room of the Westfield Municipal Building, 425 East Broad St., Westfield. Click here to read the full proposed regulation.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh