NJ close to banning flavors: Vaping advocates offer compromise
With growing concerns about teens smoking e-cigarettes and numerous reports surfacing in recent months about young people being hospitalized or dying from vaping, New Jersey lawmakers passed a measure this week that prohibits all flavored vaping products other than tobacco flavor.
Critics of the proposed law argue that illnesses caused by vaping are the result of unregulated vaping products on the black market. They point out that the vast majority of adults use vaping products that are flavored and they say it doesn’t make sense to essentially ban almost all vaping material while still allowing tobacco to be sold.
They also point out adopting a blanket ban of flavored vaping products would force hundreds of New Jersey adult-only vaping stores to close, causing an estimated 2,000 people to lose their jobs.
Gov. Phil Murphy has indicated that he supports efforts to bar flavored vaping products and he could sign the legislation in the coming days. The issue, however, may not be completely settled yet.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association based in Medford, said the legislation that’s been passed has a stipulation that would delay implementation of the new law for 90 days, in part to give vape shop owners an opportunity to sell off thousands of dollars in inventory.
But the delay would also provide an opportunity to revisit the issue and craft a follow-up measure that could address concerns about teen vaping.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to work out some common sense solution that keeps these products around for smokers while making it much, much more difficult for youth to misuse them," Conley said Tuesday.
“We’re going to be having discussions with legislators about what they would like to see be a solution to this issue and so it’s a bit premature to say what will be in the bill," he said.
“Adult-only retail stores should be able to continue to sell these products and we should strengthen the laws around not providing these products to minors.”
He said at minimum what his organization wants to see is “the adult-only retail stores that sell vaping products primarily in e-liquids, that they be allowed to continue operating.”
“But in the long term we need products to be available at a wide variety of avenues — the same places where the Marlboros and Newports are being sold.”
He said there is widespread understanding among New Jersey lawmakers that “these products are not societal evils that must be decimated,” and as more information is presented, a consensus can hopefully be reached.
Conley pointed out effective early next month, the FDA will put a hold on selling vaping products in all flavors except tobacco and menthol that come in cartridges in convenience stores as they study the issue.
He said if the FDA decides the product should be allowed to be sold, it should also be allowed in New Jersey.
He also said the law would “open up new black markets, which were the exact cause of illicit THC-related lung injuries and deaths that New Jersey suffered several months ago.”
He noted the bill that’s been passed also imposes a 2% nicotine limit on all vaping products, a stipulation he calls absurd, “especially when you can still purchase Marlboros and Newports.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com