With more than one in four American high school students using e-cigarettes and children as young as 11-years-old beginning to vape right here in New Jersey, Chair of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Herb Conaway has introduced legislation to more thoroughly regulate the electronic smoking industry in an effort to protect both minors and adult users.
The two bills (A-5922 and A-5923) draw upon recommendations made by the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force report released in October, which suggested ways to efficiently monitor these products and mitigate potential risks to consumers.
To help prevent underage access to vapor products, the legislation would require retailers to use an electronic age verification system and would apply the same laws regarding taxation and age verification for online cigarette sales to any online e-cigarette sales.
Within the past year alone, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued more than 100 warning letters to retailers after compliance check inspections uncovered the sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) or e-liquid products to minors. The legislation would also increase fines and penalties for retailers found selling tobacco or vapor products to any customers under the age of 21.
The Department of Health would also be required to establish standards for those compliance inspections while municipalities would be allowed to assess permit fees on vapor businesses in order to use the money for inspections.
In addition, the bills would prohibit the sale of any electronic smoking device disguised to look like another object, such as pens, USB flash drives, hoodies or watches, to help prevent teenagers from concealing the fact that they are vaping.
Since certain vape cartridges can contain an amount of nicotine equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes, the legislation would also prohibit the sale of vaping liquid that contains nicotine in a concentration of more than two percent or any ingredient added by someone other than the original manufacturer.
With public health officials scrambling to track down the cause of countrywide vaping-related illnesses and deaths this past year, the legislation would also ensure thorough tracking of these products going forward in order to help officials more easily pinpoint the source/cause of any future issues. Stipulations include:
- Vapor products could only be sold if the manufacturer is registered with the FDA;
- Manufacturers would be required to upload information about their products to an electronic database to help officials verify the products meet state requirements;
- A standardized tracking feature would be required on all vapor products sold in New Jersey.
“As more information is learned about the sale and manufacture of electronic smoking devices, it has become all the more evident that these products need to be more closely regulated,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This legislation seeks to restrict underage access to dangerous and addictive products while protecting adults from unregulated merchandise that could expose them to harmful substances without their knowledge. New Jersey residents must be kept safe when it comes to this growing public health concern.”
The bill package passed the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on Thursday and will now head to the Speaker for further consideration.