NJ task force recommends banning vape products, restricting sales to ages 21 and up

Antionette Lee
October 03, 2019 - 6:01 pm
Man smokes an e-cigarette

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey officials are taking swift action to protect residents — especially young people — from vape products after at least one death in the Garden State was linked to electronic smoking devices.

Gov. Phil Murphy created the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force last month, which presented its recommendations Thursday on how it plans to impose a ban on e-cigarettes and other smoking devices.

The task force, which calls this a public health crisis, hopes to establish a legislative ban on the sale of flavored electronic smoking devices and products, because, officials say, flavors like fruit, ice cream or candy often attract young people who think the products are harmless. 

Chair Judith Persichilli said they've had five meetings to date and heard from more than 200 people.

"Our overriding conclusion is that electronic smoking devices pose a threat to public health, particularly the health and well-being of our youth," she said.

The group is also pushing for increased penalties for stores and employees that sell these devices and related products to people under the age of 21. 

Instead of online sales, the task force recommends transactions be made in-person only.

As of Thursday, at least 18 vaping-related deaths have been confirmed across 15 states, including New Jersey and Delaware. Vaping-related lung injuries in the U.S. have also surpassed 1,000 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"In New Jersey, we have 32 reports under investigation and 14 confirmed or probable cases, including one death of an adult woman from a northern part of the state," added Persichilli.

The task force has several other proposals, such as increasing warning signs, and preventing the sale of clothing that intends to conceal the devices, like hoodies or backpacks that may make it easier for teens to get their hands on e-smoking devices in school. 

The task force aims to formulate a comprehensive strategy within the next 21 days. Officials say this is just a start to protect the health and safety of New Jersey residents.