Flavored e-liquid could become a thing of the past in New Jersey if a bill that’s currently being reviewed passes. In another misguided effort to curb the non-existent problem of youth vaping, Democratic lawmakers in the state want to ban all flavors of e-liquid except tobacco, menthol and clove.
The bill is currently being reviewed in New Jersey’s State Assembly and Senate. It is opposed by vape shop owners, who say they could lose business or even be forced to close their doors if their adult customers were denied the choice of flavors. Many adults choose vaping as a safer alternative to smoking, and are attracted to the variety of flavors available for e-liquid.
The law in New Jersey forbids the sale of vaping products, including e-liquid, to anyone under the age of 19. Teen vaping was on the rise for several years, but is now on the decline according to recent statements from the Centers for Disease Control. But many anti-smoking groups still insist that vaping is a serious problem for the health of America’s youth.
It is a known fact that nicotine is addictive, though whether or not it is particularly harmful in and of itself to adults is unclear. But there is evidence that nicotine can be harmful to children and teenagers whose brains are still developing. Teen smoking rates are on the decline and many vaping advocates believe that the rise in the past few years of teen vaping may be the reason. But now that teen vaping is also on the decline, there is even more reason to believe that vaping is doing what it’s supposed to do: give smokers and those inclined to smoke a safer choice without getting them hooked on nicotine through another system. In fact, another study from Penn State concluded that vaping appears to have less potential as an addictive behavior than smoking does.
But anti-smokers who have also latched onto the anti-vaping position see nothing but bad in vaping, and seem to believe that an abstinence-only policy is the only way to cut smoking rates. Instead of embracing the harm reduction potential of vaping, which has been proven by scientific evidence that shows vaping eliminates some 95 percent of the harm of smoking, the anti-vaping campaigners keep trying to eliminate vaping as an option because of potential dangers that are not known to actually exist.
Politically, the vaping issue has been split on party lines, with Democrats generally being against it. New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, would have to sign the flavor-ban bill before it could become law. On the federal level, Republicans have given support to vaping as a smoking alternative through legislation and statements, including a bill that would put e-cigarettes into a unique category separate from tobacco products. Governor Christie’s position on vaping is not known, but if the NJ bill were to pass both the state’s legislative houses, the governor could veto it.
Adam Rubin, the owner of the Gorilla Vapes franchise, is worried about the damage to business that could come from the bill becoming law, but says he can’t imagine that the governor would put so many stores out of business. Rubin estimates that 300 stores could be forced to close if the bill passes. He says he has seen vaping products, with the vast amount of flavors available, turn smokers away from their deadly cigarette habit. He believes that if vaping is allowed to continue as it is, “in five years nobody will be buying cigarettes.” But that if the flavor ban passes, people will end up buying flavored liquid out of state, attempting to make it themselves, or just give up vaping and go back to smoking.