New Jersey lawmakers on Monday approved a bill that would ban the sale of flavored vaping products. The bill passed in both the Senate and State Assembly, and now heads to Governor Phil Murphy, who has until January 21 to either sign or veto the bill.
The bill prohibits the sale and distribution of electronic smoking devices with a "distinguishable flavor, taste or aroma." The legislation would also impose a minimum fine of $250 for a first offence, $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 22-15 and the Assembly approved the bill 53-11, with eight assembly members abstaining.
The law would go into effect 90 days after being signed by the governor.
A task force set up by Murphy last year recommended a ban on flavored vaping products. The task force presented their findings and recommendations at a press conference in October just two days after the state's first vaping-related death was reported, and Murphy agreed with their recommendations.
"Without question, I would take more forceful executive action today if I had the authority," Murphy said. "But ultimately, many of these recommendations need to be taken up by the legislature."
The ban is intended to protect children. Aby the New York City Council in November, where Mayor Bill de Blasio also cited concerns over safety for young people.
"I am certain there are some people who benefit, but the problem we have is we know that these flavors are being used to systematically hook children and we know people are using other products and we know we have a health crisis now," de Blasio said at the time.
Some vape shop owners in New Jersey are holding out hope Murphy will veto the bill.
"Our hope is that it doesn't pass today, if it does pass today, that the governor would veto it," Maria Egberts, the owner of Maja-Flava Vape Den, told CBS Philadelphia. "Because all the vape shops in New Jersey will be closing down, pretty much immediately. We can't survive without flavors, that's impossible."