N.J. advances ban on flavored e-cigarettes and menthols

A woman takes a puff from a cannabis vape pen in Los Angeles. (Richard Vogel/AP Photo)

A woman takes a puff from a cannabis vape pen in Los Angeles. (Richard Vogel/AP Photo)

Lawmakers in New Jersey voted to ban the sale of flavored vaping products Thursday, as part of a package of bills aimed at reducing e-cigarette use among youth.

The approval was seen as a blow to the vaping industry in New Jersey, which argued against the prohibition and claimed it could have unintended consequences.

“You’ll create a black market where the products will not necessarily be out of the hands of youth,” said Mark Anton, executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association.

But lawmakers and public health advocates suggested that banning flavored products would yield a significant reduction in youth vaping rates, which have continued to grow.

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“I don’t want to see what has happened with the effects of smoking happen with the effects of vaping to people I know and really cherish in my life,” said Kara Gilliam, a junior at Pequannock Township High School in North Jersey.

Both the state Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee and the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approved the ban on Thursday.

The votes came one day after the Massachusetts House approved a ban on all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

The Assembly and Senate committees also voted in favor of a ban on the sale of traditional menthol cigarettes.

Additionally, both committees advanced bills to rewrite licensing rules for vape shops and increase penalties for businesses that sell e-cigarettes to people younger than 21.

The debate over youth vaping continues as the country continues to grapple with a mysterious vaping-related illness reported in dozens of states, including New Jersey.

According to the state Department of Health, there have been 37 cases of the vaping-related illness in New Jersey, including one death.

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