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Conaway & Benson Bill to Ban Flavored Electronic Smoking Devices in New Jersey Advances

Separate Measure Would also Prohibit Use of Coupons & Promotional Offers on Tobacco & Vapor Products to Make Them Less Enticing

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Daniel Benson to outlaw the sale of flavored electronic smoking products in New Jersey in an effort to prevent the products from being targeted to young people.
A separate measure approved by the panel would also prohibit the use of coupons and promotional offers for both tobacco and vapor products.

“Going back to the days of ‘Joe Camel,’ we’ve seen how nicotine companies carefully market their products to young, impressionable consumers in the hopes of attracting life-long customers,” said Conaway (D-Burlington), a practicing physician. “The appeal of electronic smoking devices is just as bad, if not worse, because the products are available in almost every candy-like flavor imaginable. From a public health perspective, it makes sense to extend the ban on flavored tobacco products to electronic smoking devices, as well.”

“We have long banned almost all flavors of cigarettes to avoid enticing young people. Now we have electronic smoking devices with candy flavors, cereal flavors, and even ice cream flavors,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We can’t go back to the days of offering addictive products that are attractive to children. The best way to prevent addiction is to make sure it never starts.”

The first bill (A-3704), sponsored by Conaway and Benson, would specifically prohibit the sale, the offering for sale, and the distribution of electronic smoking devices and related products that have a “characterizing flavor,” meaning the device imparts a distinguishable flavor, taste, or aroma prior to or during consumption, including, but not limited to, any fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb, or spice flavoring; or the device or related product is advertised or marketed as having or producing any such flavor, taste, or aroma.

Current law prohibits the sale or distribution of cigarettes that have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco, clove, or menthol. However, the law does not prohibit the sale or distribution of electronic smoking devices, cartridges or other components, including liquid refills, which have a characterizing flavor other than those currently allowed.

This bill would amend existing law to expand the prohibition on the sale or distribution of flavored cigarettes to include flavored electronic smoking devices, cartridges, components and other related products, including liquid refills.

Under the bill, an “electronic smoking device” is defined to include any electronic device that can be used to deliver nicotine or other substances to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, hookah, or pipe. The prohibition established under the bill would also extend to any cartridge or other component of the device, including liquid nicotine.

Anyone found in violation of the prohibition established under this bill would be liable to a civil penalty of not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation, and $1,000 for the third and each subsequent violation.

The bill would take effect immediately upon enactment.

The second measure (A-4620), sponsored by Conaway, would prohibit the use of coupons, price reductions, and price rebates in connection with the sale or offer for sale of tobacco and vapor products to consumers at retail.

“Despite bans on marketing tobacco and nicotine products to young people, they are still being exposed to promotional offers,” added Conaway. “Banning discounts and promotions can help eliminate their curiosity and susceptibility to trying nicotine products, and consequently, becoming addicted. At the same time, eliminating discounts may also help adults quit because the high cost of tobacco products is often a driving factor in convincing many people to give up the habit.”

A violation of this prohibition would be punishable by a civil penalty of not less than $250 for a first violation, not less than $500 for a second violation, and $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation, which would be paid into the treasury of the municipality in which the violation occurred.

Additionally, a licensed tobacco retail dealer found to have committed a violation would, following a hearing, be subject to an additional administrative penalty or suspension of the dealer’s license. The license would be subject to revocation following a second violation.

This bill would take effect two months following enactment.

Conaway noted that New York City currently has a cigarette coupon ban that took effect in 2014 and similar legislation is currently pending in New York State.

Both measures were approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee chaired by Conaway.