Aiming to curb the growing use of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes among teens, which now exceeds their use of traditional cigarettes, a bill that would prohibit the delivery of electronic smoking devices to a residence without first obtaining, upon delivery, the signature of an individual at least age 21, cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Thursday. The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., MD, John Armato and Valerie Vainieri Huttle.
“This bill can help serve as a tool to prevent the lifelong addiction typically associated with smoking,” said Conaway, Jr. (D-Burlington) a physician who chairs the committee. “I am unapologetic about seeking solutions to curbing nicotine addiction, especially in young people.”
The bill (A-4896) is designed to ensure that a signature is obtained from an individual 21 or older, who resides at the residence, when tobacco products are delivered from a non-face to face purchase. Violators would be subject to civil and criminal penalties applicable to individuals who sell or furnish tobacco products and electronic smoking devices to anyone under 21.
The measure complements existing state statute which increased the minimum age for purchasing tobacco and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21 years, and raised the minimum age from 19 to 21 years of an individual to whom a vendor could sell, offer for sale, distribute, give or furnish such products in New Jersey. That statute also mandates that a non-face to face sale of tobacco or electronic smoking device must include the verification of the purchaser’s age, and the shipping address must match the purchaser’s address. This measure, aims to fill any gaps in this law during the delivery of these sales.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, 8.2 percent of high school students smoke and 12.1 percent use e-cigarettes. Although research is still underway to determine the long-term health effects of e-cigarette usage, the U.S. Surgeon General has warned of the carcinogenic properties of e-cigarettes. Some research indicates that e-cigarette usage as a teenager increases the likelihood of smoking traditional cigarettes later in life.
“Cigarette smoking has shortened the lives of countless loved ones and friends,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “This bill can help prevent such losses from happening.”
“If we can prevent one person, particularly someone still in their teens, from developing an addiction that can have life-ending consequences, then we have made a tremendous impact,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).
The bill was introduced January 17. It now awaits further consideration from the Assembly.