It's illegal in New Jersey to sell vape pens to individuals under the age of 21.

But there's nothing wrong, per statewide law at least, with folks younger than 21 being in possession of these electronic smoking devices.

To help curb what they call an alarming growth in popularity of vapes, Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation that would attach a fine to the possession of the devices by persons under 21 years of age. Violators would face a civil penalty of $25.

"We need to do more to protect our youth from the harmful effects of nicotine products like e-cigarettes and vapes," said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-Morris.

Individual towns, such as Evesham, have established ordinances that ban underage possession but there is no statewide policy.

In New Jersey, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11.5 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 use e-cigarettes, which are promoted as an alternative to smoking cigarettes but can contain nicotine. The devices can also deliver other substances such as marijuana.

"i think we should be concerned about how to help young people not start using these products, and help them get off of these products," said Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of New Jersey-based Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy.

While she applauds the lawmakers' efforts to take a stand against youth vaping, which the U.S. surgeon general has called a public health threat, Blumenfeld fears enforcement of the ban will be difficult.

"Now with the new types of products, sometimes it's completely undetectable," she said. "Because there is no plume or vapor smoke that one can see."

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.