TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Gordon and Sen. Joseph Vitale was signed into law this week banning the use of electronic smoking devices, commonly known as “e-cigarettes,” in indoor public places and the sale of the devices to minors.
“This is yet another victory for public health,” said Gordon (D-Bergen). “No matter how manufacturers attempt to market these devices, they are still cigarettes. In many ways, they may be more dangerous than traditional cigarettes because of their lack of oversight or any conclusive studies into their health effects.”
“With all of the overwhelming statistics on the hazards of smoking, the e-cigarette is nothing more than an attempt by the tobacco industry to reinvent itself as a healthier alternative,” said Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Meanwhile, they are using propylene glycol, a known irritant, to create the vaporizing effect of the cigarette.”
The bill applies the provisions of the 2005 “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act” to the use of e-cigarettes by expanding the definition of “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. The 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.
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.
The new law, which goes into effect 180 days from its signing, also prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19, the legal age to purchase other traditional tobacco products. The same penalties listed above would apply to any retailer who sells a tobacco product to someone under the age of 19.
“The liquid used in e-cigarettes often contains flavoring, such as chocolate or cherry. Clearly, the people who make these devices are trying to make them attractive to younger people, all the more reason for us to apply the underage ban to these devices,” added Gordon.
“The legend of Joe Camel rears its ugly head. Tobacco product manufacturers know they have a much better chance of hooking people on their products if they can get to them when they’re younger, less informed and feel invincible. This law sends a clear message that we’re not going to stand for that,” added Vitale, who also sponsored the Smoke Free Air Act and a 2008 law banning the sale of flavored traditional cigarettes in New Jersey.
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 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.
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.
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