NJ’s senior U.S. senator calls for a temporary vaping ban
Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the creation of a state task force to investigate the dangers posed by vaping.
The order came a day after Republican President Donald Trump said he'd pursue a ban on many flavors used in e-cigarettes, and state Senate President Steve Sweeney said he'd look to ban vaping entirely.
On Monday New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez got in the game. He unveiled a five-point vaping action plan to address what he called an increasing crisis.
During an event at Ridgewood High School, Menendez said the latest information from the CDC is that over the past 90 days more than 380 people in 36 states have been hospitalized for illness linked to vaping, including 3 confirmed and 19 suspected cases in New Jersey.
He said many of these individuals are young and otherwise healthy, but suddenly started having trouble breathing.
Menendez said it's challenging for health officials to find the root cause of these illnesses because “no one single vaping product has been identified as the predominant risk factor.”
“These vaping products come on the market with no regulation, no research, and no restraints on their marketing to our children," he said.
He also said it's not surprising the Food and Drug Administration reports vaping has skyrocketed by 78% among teens in recent years.
“We’ve seen companies like Juul debut fun colors and flavors like Green Apple and Strawberry Lemonade along with splashy advertising campaigns featuring young people having a blast with every puff," Menendez said.
For these reasons Menendez said bold and immediate action is needed.
“We need a moratorium on the sale of vaping products until the experts figure out exactly what’s going on," he said. "The bottom line is we don’t yet know exactly what’s destroying the lungs of these vapor users.”
His action plan also calls for ending what he said is deceptive markets to kids.
Menendez said he’s calling on the FDA “to ban vaping ads aimed at our youth, and require mandatory age verification for every e-cigarette sale.”
He also saod online loopholes must be closed so he’s written to several internet vaping retailers requesting they remove vaping products from their virtual shelves so minors can’t get them.
“Whether it’s eBay or Alibaba or anyone else, no company should want these deaths linked back to their sites," Menendez said.
Additionally, Menendez said he’s calling for a measure he's sponsoring, to "provide the CDC with a half a billion dollars over the next five years to combat teen vaping.
He said the money would go toward research on the health risks posed by e-cigarettes, the links between vaping and smoking and the threat of nicotine addiction.
“”These e-cigarette companies want you to believe their products are less addictive than traditional tobacco products," Menendez said. "They’re lying.”
Menendez said it’s also important to start taxing e-cigarettes the same way traditional cigarettes are taxed.
“In the face of a real public health emergency it’s incumbent on all of us to raise awareness and warn people of the potential risks of vaping," he said.
He added at this point everyone needs to understand “taking another puff from your vape pen isn’t worth the risk of winding up on a ventilator.”
The FDA announced last week new e-cigarette regulations were being developed, however Menendez said this will take several months to implement and immediate action is needed.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
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