TRENTON – The state Senate voted 38-0 Thurday to approve a bill to apply the provisions of the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act” to restrict the use of electronic smoking devices, commonly known as “e-cigarettes.”
The bill (S-3053) would expand the definition of “smoking” to include e-cigarettes and extend the ban on smoking by minors to include the use of e-cigarettes. It would define smoking as the burning or inhaling of tobacco or any other matter than can be smoked or inhaled, or the inhaling of smoke or vapor from an electronic smoking device.
“When a user puffs on an e-cigarette, which is a stainless steel tube designed to look like a real cigarette, they inhale a vaporized solution that usually contains nicotine,” Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) said. “The liquid often contains flavoring, such as chocolate or cherry. It seems obvious the people who make these devices are trying to make them attractive to younger people.
The e-cigarettes have a glowing red tip so that they look like a real cigarette. The heated solution produces a mist that is inhaled and exhaled, and a light-emitting diode at the end of the tube simulates the glow of burning tobacco. The device is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
“The battery warms the liquid nicotine and propylene glycol from a replaceable plastic cartridge when a person inhales the device,” Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) said. “Propylene glycol, which is used in antifreeze, is the liquid that vaporizes when a person exhales and produces a mist that is nearly identical in appearance to tobacco smoke. According to a 2009 statement by Health Canada, the Canadian federal government agency with regulatory jurisdiction over health issues, inhaling propylene glycol is a known irritant.”
The “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act” already prohibits the smoking of a cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco or any other matter that can be smoked in indoor public places and workplaces.
“Our bill would update the current law to define an electronic smoking device to mean an electronic device that can be used to deliver nicotine or other substances to the person inhaling from the device, including an electronic cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, or pipe,” Gordon said.
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused entry to shipments of e-cigarettes coming into this country on the grounds that these are unapproved drug device products; however, these devices have made their way into this country and are sold online and in some shopping mall kiosks.
Under the bill, the penalties that currently apply to a person who smokes tobacco in an indoor public place or workplace would apply to a person who uses an e-cigarette: a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has called for the federal Food and Drug Administration to remove e-cigarettes from the market. The ban on e-cigarettes is also supported by The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Advocates of electronic smoking devices say that they can be a tool to help smokers quit using traditional cigarettes and point to a 2008 study in the Health New Zealand medical journal that concluded that they are a safe alternative to smoking.
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