Governor Also Calls for Expedited Legislative Action to Confront Public Health Risks of Vaping
TRENTON – Standing with legislative leaders, cabinet members, and public health officials, Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 84 to create the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force, which is directed to formulate a comprehensive strategy to protect New Jersey residents from the hazards of electronic cigarettes. The task force is to submit its recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, and the public within 21 days.
“The rash of lung disease and death nationwide due to e-cigarette use is deeply alarming,” said Governor Murphy. “As state leaders charged with protecting the safety and health of the New Jersey public, we must have a more complete understanding of the risks associated with this all-too-common practice, and the options available to address e-cigarette use. I’m proud to create a task force bringing departments together across government that will immediately get to work to achieve that goal.
“The only safe alternative to smoking is not smoking. I urge New Jerseyans to follow the recommendations of the CDC and our Department of Health to discontinue the use of all electronic cigarettes and vaping products,” Governor Murphy continued.
“Use of electronic smoking devices has skyrocketed among our youth and the incidence of serious lung complications is increasing at a rapid rate—which is cause for concern. People should stop vaping until the FDA and the CDC determine the cause of these illnesses,” said Acting Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
“Regardless of the ongoing investigation, people should not buy e-cigarette products off the street and e-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults and pregnant women. The Governor’s task force will convene quickly and come up with recommendations to protect the health of the residents of New Jersey—particularly our youth,” Acting Commissioner Persichilli continued.
“Governor Murphy is right to prioritize this issue with a task force so that we can collect the information we need to protect all residents,” said Christine Norbut Beyer, Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. “It is absolutely critical for parents to be aware and vigilant of vaping dangers, just as they are with prescription medications and illegal drugs. The vaping industry has gone stealth, creating tools that mimic flash drives, sharpie markers, lipstick, lighters, and more. This type of marketing certainly raises concerns because they’re targeting youth, encouraging deception and putting young lives at-risk.”
”As the home of both the state’s addiction agency and it’s Medicaid agency, NJ Human Services sees the challenges and harm of addiction every day,” said Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson. “We share the grave concern of the Governor and the Legislature about the dramatic rise in youth vaping, the proliferation of candy and other kid-friendly flavors, and the new cases of vaping-related lung illness. The time for action is now. We stand with our colleagues across government and will take up the charge of the Governor’s Executive Order with all expediency.”
“As a father, I am very concerned about the way e-cigarettes have been marketed to kids in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “If products that come with risks of addiction and other serious health problems are sold at all, they should never be marketed in ways that appeal to children. We share Governor Murphy’s commitment to responding forcefully to protect the health of New Jersey kids.”
Legislators and advocates also applauded the announcement.
“This is a real epidemic, and it’s not getting better. It’s getting worse,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “We are losing another generation of children. We had great success in reducing smoking and we all should be proud of that. Underage smoking went down, and now the tobacco industry has found another way to hook kids. It’s not right.”
“We’ve all heard or seen the alarming reports about deaths or lung illness potentially related to vaping,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “This is an extremely timely issue and we must identify and address any dangers of vaping. I look forward to working with the Governor and Senate President as we seek solutions that are in the best interest of the public health.”
“A better understanding of the effects of vaping is vital to the public health. Policymakers and everyday citizens alike must be made aware of the dangerous consequences of e-cigarettes, especially when it comes to the wellbeing of young people who tend to use these devices the most,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway. “This task force is critical to gathering and sharing information about the various, potentially fatal outcomes of vaping and how our state can properly address this issue to protect our residents. Shame on the federal government for not exercising its regulatory authority in a more timely manner. We’ve seen the results which tragically have been deaths and severe illnesses that could possibly have been avoided.”
“We applaud Governor Phil Murphy for creating the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force, a real-time response to a national outbreak of teen lung illness, the cause of which has not yet been determined,” said Meredith Berkman and Dorian Fuhrman, co-founders of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes. “More broadly, this laser-focused task force, with its 21-day deadline for results and action, is a bold and creative executive response to the youth vaping epidemic, the most serious adolescent public-health crisis our country has faced in decades. Following yesterday’s long hoped-for announcement that the FDA would use its existing authority to remove kid-hooking e-cig flavors from the market, we know this epidemic continues to grow at an astonishing rate. Governor Murphy, a champion for children and families, fully understands that unless states act immediately to do the work that the FDA failed to do by allowing flavored e-cigs to remain on the market without fully reviewing them—our young people are in danger of becoming a generation of nicotine addicts and potentially suffering from long-term health consequences.
Executive Order No. 84 creates a ten-member Electronic Smoking Device Task Force, which will identify action items, both executive and legislative, to address the risks of electronic cigarette use. The task force, chaired by NJ Department of Health Acting Commissioner Persichilli, will be required to issue an initial report of its findings and recommendations within 21 days.
The Task Force is charged with examining all options to address electronic cigarette use, including the following:
- Providing warning signs to be posted in stores that sell electronic smoking devices;
- Expanding the State’s ability to investigate, track, and monitor any cases of severe pulmonary disease;
- Recommending legislative and regulatory changes needed to protect young people from electronic cigarettes;
- Developing a statewide public awareness campaign on the risks of electronic cigarette use;
- Reviewing and providing feedback on current efforts to address the dangers of electronic cigarette use and considering methods for expansion of those efforts;
- Cooperating with local, state, federal, and private or non-profit entities while the multi-state investigation continues; and
- Adopting similar policies with respect to traditional cigarettes.
For a copy of the executive order, click here.