In an attempt to bring attention to and concern over the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, also referred to as vapes – Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, R-36th District, and Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, introduced a new bill that would ban the possession of electronic smoking devices by anyone under the age of 21.
New Jersey joined California and Hawaii in 2017 to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, to anyone under 21, however, there is nothing that prohibits possession by minors.
“We need to do more to protect our youth from the harmful effects of nicotine products like e-cigarettes and vapes. The popularity of electronic smoking devices among our youth is growing at an alarming rate,” said DeCroce in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 11.5 percent of adults age 18 to 24 in New Jersey use e-cigarettes. Research also shows that e-cigarettes are harmful to adolescent brain development and their fun flavors appeal to a younger demographic. In addition, e-cigarettes contain addictive nicotine and users are more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
“Young people are misguided in their beliefs that vaping is a healthy alternative to cigarettes. In reality, they are exposing themselves to chemicals and nicotine,” said Bucco.
“We need to send a stronger message to young people about the dangers of vaping,” said DeCroce.
According to a statement by senate Republicans, last year, Evesham Township in South Jersey established an ordinance that banned possession of e-cigarettes and vapes by anyone under the age of 18. Most recently, Morris Township introduced a similar ordinance that would ban possession by anyone under the age of 21. The legislation introduced by DeCroce and Bucco would create a statewide policy.
Under the new legislation, possession of electronic smoking devices by persons under 21 years of age in New Jersey would be punishable by a fine as a petty disorderly person’s offense.