Surrounded by students, administrators and health advocates outside Ridgewood High School, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez laid out a five-point plan, including calling for a moratorium on the sale and use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products until experts determine what is causing what he called a current public health emergency.
Menendez, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, wants to curb vaping use, especially among teens with the goal of reducing the risk of vaping-related illnesses.
He said that health officials have been unable to determine what has caused the hospitalizations of more than 360 people and six deaths due to serious pulmonary diseases linked to vaping across 36 over the past 90 days.
“The fruity flavors, the catchy colors, the promoted tweets and Instagram ads. The false claims vaping is safe. Enough is enough,” Menendez said.
“The truth is we don’t know if it’s a single substance being vaped or a cocktail of chemicals being vaped that’s making Americans sick. What we do know is that taking another puff from your vape pen is not worth the risk of winding up on a ventilator. It’s time to press pause, to find answers and above all else to protect our children,” said Menendez.
Menendez said that the vaping problem did not start overnight and it will not disappear tomorrow.
“According to the FDA vaping among teens has sky rocketed 78 percent in the past few years. These vaping come on the market with no regulation no research and no restraints on their marketing to our children.”
The five federal actions Menendez is pursuing include:
- A moratorium on sales and use of all vaping products until it is determined what is causing serious, sometimes fatal illnesses in users
- Crackdown on deceptive marketing, especially targeted to teens and young people, which offer exotic flavors that appeal to kids and/or portray vapes as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking
- Close the online loophole that allows young people in states like New Jersey with strict over-21 laws to purchase vapes over the internet without proper age-verification
- Dedicate $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the impact of e-cigarettes on young people and to develop campaigns and grants for communities to educate youth and parents about the dangers of e-cigarettes
- Tax vaping products at the same level as traditional tobacco products as a financial deterrent to curb usage
Dr. John Poole, immediate past president of the Medical Society of New Jersey said that the MSNJ is urging everyone to refrain from the use of e-cigarette products until such time as the Centers for Disease Control, the New Jersey Department of Health and other public health officials can determine the cause of the serious illnesses caused by vaping. “We are proud to join with Senator Menendez in urging a moratorium on the sale of e-cigarette products.”
In the past several years, vaping shops have proliferated throughout New Jersey.
Gregory Conley, president, American Vaping Association (a nonprofit that advocates for sensible regulation of vaping products) told NJBIZ that his organization agrees that no youth should vape. “Just as no youth should use marijuana, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol. Nonetheless, prohibition has never worked in this country and stopping the 3 million-plus adults who have switched to vaping from continuing to access these harm reduction products would only lead to increased smoking and the creation of new illicit markets.”
Conley said that news stories about illnesses and deaths generally being caused by ‘vaping’ have absolutely led to sales decreases at many stores.
“Fortunately, the national health reporters covering the story are now starting to acknowledge that these illnesses are linked not to nicotine vaping products, but contaminated black market THC oils. We are hopeful the public and elected officials will start to understand that products sold by drug dealers are vastly different from store-bought nicotine products,” said Conley.