Lawmakers want to clamp down on where people can buy e-cigarettes and other vaping products – a move that comes in the midst of a rash of lung-related illnesses stemming from vaping, and calls in New Jersey and many other states to curtail the practice.
Senate Bill 1647 would prohibit businesses from offering any coupons, rebates and other price-cut offerings for tobacco and electronic cigarettes.
At its Sept. 10 meeting, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved S992 in a 6-2 vote and S1647 in a 7-1 vote.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Phil Murphy doubled down on the stance of the state Department of Health that no one should use vaping products until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can determine the cause of 450 lung-related illnesses, spanning 33 states, and all originating from the use of vaping products.
“No one should be vaping,” Murphy said at the unrelated Morristown event.
The governor said last week during WBGO’s “Ask Governor Murphy” call-in radio show that he would certainly want to consider a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, similar to one Michigan recently enacted.
“It’s become I think a pervasive, real health challenge, particularly for teens and young folks. And the flavored part of it drives me crazy… everyone has their eyes open as to what they’re doing,” the governor said. “But at first blush, I’d be open-minded to that. I think that sounds like it’s got some merit.”
This will pick winners and losers in the market.
– John Resnick, owner, Resnick Distributors
During the Tuesday meeting, S992 drew out the wariness of several businesses – especially grocery store owners – uneasy that those with pharmacy options in their stores, as well as any other pharmacy, would be put at a disadvantage without the ability to offer any such products to customers.
“This will pick winners and losers in the market,” John Resnick, owner of the New Brunswick-based Resnick Distributors, told lawmakers. “It will transfer sales from one segment to the other… A consumer will go somewhere else.”
Business owners will simply have to choose whether to offer pharmacy or tobacco products, but not both, said Sen. Joe Vitale, D-19th District, who sponsored S992.
With the rise of “doc-in-a-box” pharmacies that also offer health screenings, vaccinations and other medical services, the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products at those same stores would make increasingly less sense, said Vitale, who also chairs the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“I think it’s not in the public interest, certainly not the public health,” to sell those products at pharmacies, the senator said.