Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill to ban all flavored electronic cigarette products for adults in New Jersey, claiming they entice kids to smoke.
The legislation, which is currently being reviewed by committees in both the state Assembly and Senate, only allows the sale of tobacco, menthol and clove flavors for vaping products. Proponents of the bill argue flavored e-cigarettes attract kids to the product, hooking them on nicotine at an early age, despite federal data showing youth vaping is in decline, reports Press of Atlantic City.
Vape shop owners in New Jersey are blasting the legislation, which they say will wipe out businesses throughout the state. Vaping advocates point out the legal purchasing age for e-cigarettes and tobacco products in New Jersey is 19, and note vape flavors primarily appeal to adults who are using the device as an alternative to cigarettes.
“You will have 300 stores out of business,” Adam Rubin, operator of a Gorilla Vapes store in Egg Harbor Township, told Press of Atlantic City. “I would be shocked if the governor would put 300 stores out of business and 1,000 workers. Nobody buys just menthol. Nobody buys just tobacco. The only thing that you are doing (with the anti-flavored e-cigarette bill) is stopping law-abiding citizens.”
The proposal will still need to pass through both houses of the state legislature and be approved by Republican Gov. Chris Christie before becoming law.
Critics of the proposed ban note the flavors are very popular with adults and offer smokers a viable way to reduce health risks to themselves and those around them. Major health groups in England, like the Royal College of Physicians, agree that using e-cigarettes eliminates most of the harms attributed to smoking. They also recommend vaping to patients trying to quit traditional tobacco products.
Vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risks associated with cigarettes because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke.
Fears that electronic cigarettes, particularly flavored products, are causing a youth health crisis appear to be overblown. A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 reveals teens are now giving up the habit after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.
The findings are in line with the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future survey, which showed a drop in youth vaping in 2016 down to 13 percent of high school students. The CDC survey shows 11.3 percent of high school students used a vaping device in 2016. Overall, the number of teens using any tobacco product also declined from 4.7 million to 3.9 million in 2016.
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