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Gov. Phil Murphy announced he would pursue a ban on flavored electronic cigarette products following the release of a report by his Electronic Smoking Device Task Force Thursday.
The task force recommended a ban on all e-cigarette flavors, including menthol, increased penalties for vendors and employees making underage sales, restricting online e-cigarette sales and barring people under the age of 21 from entering vape stores, among other things.
“The recommendations in this report are bold, and rightfully so,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “This report kickstarts a comprehensive state-level response to ensure that we protect the health and safety of all of our residents, and while our state government comes together to address this public health crisis, we in the Department of Law and Public Safety will continue our efforts to identify violations of state law by vaping companies.”
While most of the report’s recommendations will require legislative action, Murphy’s administration is increasing the number of staffers conducting compliance buys to ensure retailers are not selling tobacco products to underage persons.
The state is looking to add 16 new employees to that endeavor. Currently, there are 12.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said 13% of compliance buys result in a penalty, though that figure relates to sales of all tobacco products, not vaping products specifically.
State Senator Shirley Turner, the upper chamber’s point person on vaping issues, said she had spoken with Senate President Steve Sweeney about the task force’s report, adding that she believed Sweeney may wish to impose regulations on vaping past what was recommended in the report.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin signaled support for the recommendations but did not clearly say which he would support.
“We’ve seen this play before, and we know how it ends,” Assemblyman Herb Conaway said. “Half the people who take up nicotine smoking die from the use of these products, and we understand now that the flavors that are placed into these vaping products, these electronic cigarettes, are designed precisely to hook a generation of young people on nicotine.”