It will become more difficult for minors to get their hands on electronic smoking devices that deliver flavored tobacco products now that the Jersey City Council adopted an ordinance banning their sale or distribution in the city.
The legislation sponsored by council members Joyce Waterman, Denise Ridley, and Jermaine Robinson aims to protect Jersey City youth from the harmful products found to be popular among teenagers.
The legislation states that the ban is in the city’s best interests, “in order to protect the health and welfare of the public by reducing the appeal of these products to minors and reduce the likelihood that these minors will become addicted to nicotine.”
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one in four high school students uses an e-cigarette. In the last two years alone e-cigarette use among high school students increased by 135 percent. In 2019, nearly 5 million middle school and high school students reported using e-cigarettes.
“The CDC has stated that the increasing number of lung illnesses that have been recently documented is related to the inhalation of vaporized THC and nicotine products in children,” said Councilwoman Joyce Watterman. “It is our hope that by placing this ban, our children will be less likely to be enticed into using any electronic smoking devices through the tactic of selling flavors.”
According to the CDC, there have been 2,291 cases of lung injuries associated with e-cigarettes or vaping products across all 50 states, and 48 people have died.
The median age of those who died was 52. Their ages ranged from 17 to 75.
A clear and present danger
“The research on the dangers of vaping and the increase in use by young people is alarming,” said Councilwoman Ridley. “As a member of City Council, I feel it is important to take measures to tackle this issue through legislation in an effort to reduce the number of our children using these products.”
Mayor Steven Fulop said the ban specifically targets flavored tobacco products because electronic cigarette companies are targeting young people through candy and fruit-flavored products.
As electronic cigarettes become more popular, a growing number of studies have found that young people who use them are more likely to become smokers, many of whom would not have otherwise smoked cigarettes.
According to a 2016 Surgeon General’s report, youth use of nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe, causes addiction, and can harm the developing brain.
According to the city, city officials will do spot-checks of local establishments to ensure the products aren’t being sold. According to municipal law, those that do could face a maximum penalty of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment for a period of up to 90 days and/or a period of community service up to 90 days, at the discretion of the court.
The council voted 8-1 to adopt the ban. Councilman Richard Boggiano did not vote in favor of the ordinance, stating that if people wanted the flavored tobacco products they could easily just go to neighboring Union City or Bayonne or order them online.
“What’s the point of banning them here?” Boggiano said. “They should be federally regulated, not by cities or states, and if they are such a health hazard, why hasn’t the federal government banned them?”
Gov. Phil Murphy has called for statewide legislation to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol, in New Jersey. The Food and Drug Administration has also taken steps to address this issue, including announcing plans to restrict where certain flavored e-cigarettes are sold.