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Source: United States Senator for New Jersey Bob Menendez

Calls for moratorium on selling, using vapes amid public health crisis

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, today laid out a five-point plan to curb vaping use, especially among teens, and reduce the risk of vaping-related illnesses, including calling for a moratorium on the sale and use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products until experts determine what’s causing the current public health emergency.  Health officials have been unable to determine what has caused the hospitalizations of over 380 people and six deaths due to serious pulmonary diseases linked to vaping across 36 states 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,” said Sen. Menendez.  “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.”

  

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Standing with parents, students, administrators and health advocates outside Ridgewood High School, Sen. Menendez called for a comprehensive response to the vaping health crisis that includes action from the private sector, federal, state and local levels.  He outlined five separate federal actions he is pursuing to address the current and potential long-term risks associated with vapes:

  1. A moratorium on sales and use of all vaping products until it is determined what is causing serious, sometimes fatal illness in users
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. Dedicate $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  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
  1. Tax vaping products at the same level as traditional tobacco products as a financial deterrent to curb usage

“The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) urges people of all ages to refrain from using electronic cigarette products until public health authorities can delve deeper into their investigations regarding the escalating number of serious and acute lung disease cases in New Jersey and around the nation,” said John Poole, M.D., a New Jersey physician and former president of MSNJ.  “MSNJ is proud to join with Senator Menendez in calling for a moratorium on sales of e-cigarette products.”

Gov. Phil Murphy last week launched a task force to explore actions the state can take to address e-cigarettes, and the State Division of Consumer Affairs announced it is seeking information from more than a dozen e-cigarette businesses about their marketing and sales of vaping products in New Jersey.

“Governor Murphy and I are very alarmed about electronic smoking devices and their impact on public health and we are thankful that Senator Menendez is demanding swift action by the Federal Government today to help protect and save lives,” said Acting Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who also serves as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.  “New Jersey has already begun investigating the risks associated with e-cigarette and vaping devices as well as the potentially deceptive practices used by manufacturers to market and sell these products.  We join the CDC and New Jersey Department of Health in urging adults and minors to immediately stop using all electronic smoking devices.”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH RIDGEWOOD MOM JEANNE THEISEN AND SON JOSEPH DISCUSS VAPING

Ahead of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement last week that it would draft new regulations prohibiting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine pods, Sen. Menendez and several colleagues criticized the Trump Administration’s failure to respond to the growing public health emergency linked to vaping, including calling for the removal of products linked to the illnesses.  The senator called for an immediate moratorium of all sales and usage after the FDA acknowledged that it would take time to implement any new vaping regulations.

Sen. Menendez, along with a group of colleagues, sent letters today demanding eBay, Alibaba, and Craigslist to crack down on listings for e-cigarettes and vaping products on their marketplace that provide youth with a way to purchase these without any age-verification. In June, The Verge reported that eBay and other online marketplaces have dozens of listings for Juul devices and pods, as well as other vape products.

The senator has cosponsored the Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act (S.1048) that provides $100 million a year over five years to the CDC to combat teen usage of e-cigarettes, research the links between e-cigarettes and smoking and teen-targeted advertising and nicotine dependence, and to develop education campaigns for parents and children on the dangers of e-cigarettes. 

 

In addition, Sen. Menendez has cosponsored the E-Cigarette Parity Act (S.2463), introduced last week by Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), which expands the definition of tobacco products under the tax code to include e-cigarettes and alternative nicotine products.  Studies have shown that taxes on harmful tobacco products are one of the most effective ways to reduce usage, save on health care costs, and deter teens from buying them.

 

 

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