Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer that would ban the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee.
Sen. Robert Singer’s bill that would ban the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee. (Pixabay)
“We cannot ignore the alarming health risks that are associated with smoking cigarettes, particularly among our youth. Adults and even children increase their risk of developing long-term chronic health conditions from smoking cigarettes and exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Singer (R-30). “Menthol’s cooling effects make cigarettes easier to smoke and tougher to quit and are especially addictive for younger individuals. This legislation would ban the sale and distribution of menthol- and clove-flavored cigarettes in New Jersey.”
Currently, state law prohibits the sale and distribution of flavored cigarettes, with an exemption for tobacco, clove, and menthol. In 2009, the federal government enacted a similar ban on the sale of flavored cigarettes, including clove.
Menthol is a substance found in mint plants that creates a cooling sensation and masks tobacco flavor in both cigarettes and vapor products. This enables the smoker to inhale large amounts of smoke which exposes their lungs to more of the chemicals found in menthol-flavored cigarettes. According to the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, menthol cigarettes are a source of addiction for more than half of teen smokers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also indicated that nearly nine-in-ten African American smokers preferred menthol-flavored cigarettes.
Senator Singer’s bill, S-299, merged with Senate Bill 2667, to add menthol- and clove-flavored cigarettes to the list of flavored nicotine products that are prohibited from sale and distribution by retailers in New Jersey.
Retailers would be subject to a civil penalty of no less than $250 for their first violation of the merged bill’s provisions. These fines increase to $500 for a second offense and $1,000 or more for their third and each subsequent violation. In addition to monetary fines, the retailer may also have their license suspended or revoked after a second or subsequent violation of the bill’s provisions.
“Big tobacco companies have created a gateway to addiction for African American smokers and younger individuals who are hooked on flavors like menthol,” added Singer. “Banning the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes will help prevent a significant amount of devastating health consequences that are associated with smoking. This bill safeguards the health and well-being of New Jerseyans and aims to reduce the prevalence of youth smoking statewide.”
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