On Jan. 21 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that would prohibit the sale or distribution of flavored e-cigarettes, effective April 20. After the 90-day grace period, the ban will affect any electronic cigarettes with a “distinguishable flavor, taste, or aroma,” and any violations will be followed by an initial $250 fine, then a second $500 fine and a final $1,000 fine for every subsequent offense.
While there have been emergency e-cigarette bans throughout the country, New Jersey will have the country’s first permanent state ban. Following New York City, state officials state that the intention of the ban is to protect children from the harms of vaping.
In regards to his city’s ban, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “I am certain there are some people who benefit, but the problem we have is we know that these flavors are being used to systematically hook children and we know people are using other products and we know we have a health crisis now.”
Last year, there were calls for action after many vaping-related illnesses and deaths began to appear throughout the country. In return, Murphy established a task force that recommended banning flavored e-cigarettes to help prevent children from forming any vaping-related illness, a suggestion that Murphy quickly approved.
“As governor,” Murphy said, “I am first and foremost charged with protecting the health and safety of our people. Research shows that flavored electronic smoking devices and products, such as mint, candy, fruit and chocolate, are extremely appealing, especially to children.”
Opponents to the law include vape store owners and adults who use e-cigarettes as a tool to quit conventional tobacco smoking. The store owners argue that the flavored e-cigarettes are their highest profit merchandise and the ban may cause many stores to close. Additionally, with only 90 days to comply with the new law, store owners say they will have trouble shifting their shelves and adapting to a new market. Some adult vapers say that the flavored e-cigarettes are what helped them quit cigarettes, and that with the new ban comes a larger possibility of returning to conventional tobacco cigarettes.
On-campus students showed agreement with the intentions of the law but also pointed out the complexities of attempting statewide prevention. Thomas Fuzia, freshman Computer Science major, discussed his relationship with flavored e-cigarettes. “Sure, it kinda has helped me wean off smoking nicotine. I don’t care for the other flavors of Juul and it began to be a pain to get them. So I started trying those, like, disposable daily ones and I would just use less and less. I didn’t like it at first but it’s been a net good for me all and all.”
Kaitlyn McKenna, a second year Architecture major, said, “I think the ban is a proactive move and looks good on paper but underage users will find a way to get nicotine.”