Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeBeyond ParsippanyAssembly Health Committee Approves Bill to Combat Underage Smoking and Vaping

Assembly Health Committee Approves Bill to Combat Underage Smoking and Vaping

MORRIS COUNTY — The Assembly Health Committee approved a trio of bills aimed at combating the rising use of tobacco and vaping products, especially among young people.

The proposed legislation includes increasing penalties for prohibited sales, mandating inspections for retailers, and establishing guidelines for schools to create public awareness campaigns about the dangers of smoking and vaping.

“Smoking and vaping can cause devastating and irreversible damage,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee (D-Burlington). “Too many of our youth are using tobacco and vaping products, and that needs to stop. The bills we advanced today are designed to help curb underage usage of these products.”

Bill A3992, sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Venezia, Assemblyman Conaway, and Assemblywoman Tennille McCoy, proposes increased penalties for certain prohibited sales of tobacco and vapor products. Bill A2388, sponsored by Assemblyman William Spearman and Assemblyman Conaway, requires more frequent cigarette and vapor product dealer inspections. Bill A2029, sponsored by Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, Assemblyman Conaway, and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, directs the New Jersey Departments of Education (NJDOE) and Health (NJDOH) to develop guidelines for school districts and higher education institutions on student vaping awareness campaigns.

A3992 would expand the definition of “tobacco product” to include any product containing, made of, or derived from tobacco or nicotine and affiliated accessories. This includes vapor products, snuff, hookahs, filters, rolling papers, and similar items. The bill would also increase penalties for retailers selling “tobacco products” to anyone under 21 – up to $750 for the first offense, up to $1,500 for the second offense, and up to $3,000 for subsequent offenses.

“Safeguarding the health and well-being of our youth should be a priority,” said Assemblyman Venezia (D-Essex). “Updating terminology and extending regulations to encompass all tobacco products and accessories is a crucial measure in our commitment to shielding our young people from the dangers of addiction and its lifelong impacts.”

Assemblywoman McCoy (D-Mercer, Middlesex) added, “Tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes and vapes, have become a significant health epidemic among our youth. This bill prioritizes the health and well-being of our constituents by strengthening existing laws to discourage young people from accessing tobacco products and revealing the associated risks.”

A2388 would allow county or municipal law enforcement, under the direction of the Attorney General or Commissioner of the NJDOH, to conduct a minimum of two annual inspections of retailers, serve and execute summonses for violations, and forfeit vapor products found in violation. Retailers in violation would receive a three-month follow-up.

“We want to discourage retailers from selling tobacco products violating the law,” said Assemblyman Spearman (D-Camden, Gloucester). “With the rise of e-cigarette and vape usage among teens and young adults, regular inspections will enable us to address challenges before they escalate into serious issues.”

A2029 would assist school districts, colleges, and universities in communicating with students about the risks of vaping by instructing the NJDOE and NJDOH to create guidelines for on-campus anti-vaping campaigns. These campaigns would be multi-tiered, offering decision-making tools and age-specific marketing materials with information about the consequences of vaping on physical and mental health, pregnancy, workplace environments, and exposure to young children.

“Peer trends frequently influence children and young adults. While some trends, like the latest TikTok dance, may be harmless, others, like smoking, can have significant and lasting consequences,” said Assemblywoman Speight (D-Essex). “Empowering schools to engage with their student body and provide education on resisting peer pressure and staying safe helps reduce the number of youths who try smoking or vaping.”

“A study by the University of North Carolina found that ‘Real Cost’ prevention ads decreased youth susceptibility to vaping and smoking cigarettes,” said Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “This bill would translate that research into practice by providing schools with guidelines to help facilitate the implementation of on-campus anti-vaping campaigns tailored for adolescents and young adults.”

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Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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