New Jersey’s beach smoking ban: Why include vaping?
TRENTON — Next summer you'll need to not only keep your tobacco cigarettes off the beach but also electronic cigarettes.
"Electronic smoking devices have not been approved as to safety and efficacy by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and their use may pose a health risk to persons exposed to their smoke or vapor because of a known irritant contained therein and other substances that may, upon evaluation by that agency, be identified as potentially toxic to those inhaling the smoke or vapor," according to the new law, which takes effect in January.
Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP), told New Jersey 101.5 that the inclusion of vaping lies in the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act of 2006, which "ensures that workers have a safe, smoke-free workplace and that all nonsmokers — including children and senior citizens — can breathe smoke-free air in public places."
Electronic cigarettes were not initially covered in the act because they were in their infancy, according to Blumenfeld. FDA testing of the liquids used in e-cigarettes were determined to be chemicals deemed to be hazardous which led the legislature to add them in 2009, the first state to do so.
"There are countless studies now that show the health concerns with regards to consuming electronic smoking devices and also being exposed to the second hand vapor smoke," Blumenfeld said, adding that carcinogens and nicotine have been used in some of the products.
Blulmenfeld said that some electronic cigarettes are sold as "jewels" that look like flash drives that don't show any plumes of smoke when used, especially by young people.
"If these items aren't disposed of properly the nicotine can be very highly concentrated. Just by contact with the skin the nicotine can be absorbed into the body and can be harmful to little children who have a lower weight," Blulmenfeld said, adding that calls to Poison Control Centers have increased because of ingestion by pets and kids.
"There are also reports that the devices can explode and injure the person using it. This is why the federal government banned the devices from checked luggage."
Gregory Conley, president of the New Jersey-based American Vaping Association, disagrees with the inclusion of vaping devices.
"With vaping products there is no litter. The vapor that a user exhales goes into the air, especially in an open-air environment, within mere seconds. No one is really being annoyed by that on an open-air beach," Conway said.
"There is zero evidence the vapor, even in an indoor closed environment, is going to harm anyone."
Conley said there is no plan, however, to try changing the new law and is focused instead on reforming the new tax on vapor products that was part of Murphy's budget.
"There's about 65 days until that goes into effect and there are some legislators who are willing to reform that tax," Conley said.
There is some support for the ban among people who vape.
Rich Levesque, spokesman for the New Jersey Vapor Rights Coalition, said his group "regrets the idea that vaping should be in any way associated with cancer causing combustible products and oppose the government continuing to categorize the two as one."
He added, however, that "we are not opposed to the idea that families should be able to enjoy public parks and other spaces, including beaches, without any kind of adult-only products being used in close proximity to children, including vaping."