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U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez unveiled a five-point plan to curb the use of electronic cigarettes by minors and prevent instances of vape-related illnesses.
“We have what I consider a health emergency. We have an industry that was losing tremendous market share because of our prevention effort, particularly with young people — 20% drop,” Menendez said. “They’re trying to get back revenue, and they’re trying to do it by addicting young people to the vaping methods that they lost out on cigarettes, so at the end of the day, as a government, we should be standing behind our families and making sure that they’re protected.”
Menendez’s plan would institute a moratorium on the sale of all vaping products until health authorities determine a cause of a series of vape-related pulmonary illnesses.
The plan also calls for a crackdown on marketing aimed at minors, the closing of a loophole that allows minors to purchase e-cigarettes online and the implementation of an excise tax equivalent to the one imposed on traditional tobacco products like cigarettes.
Health officials around the country are investigating more than 450 instances of vape-related lung disease, including six such cases that have ended in death.
Officials in the state have identified three such confirmed cases in New Jersey and are investigating at least 19 others.
Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the creation of a task force to address the same issues last Thursday. That task force is due to submit its report on or before Oct. 3.
State lawmakers are also seeking to enact a ban on flavored nicotine vape cartridges. The federal government is also seeking such a ban, which Menendez said he supports.
The senator lent particular focus to e-cigarette use among minors, which has skyrocketed over the last few years.
“We know that Juul is already under the investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for their deceptive advertising,” Menendez said, referring to the country’s largest e-cigarette company. “We need every company engaging in these tactics to be held accountable.”