Governmental Task Force Formed to Investigate Risks of Electronic Cigarettes

NEW JERSEY — Governor Phil Murphy signed an Executive Order last week to form a task force that will investigate the risks of electronic cigarettes.

Murphy signed Executive Order No. 84 on Thursday, Sept 12, to create the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force, it will focus on creating a strategy to “protect New Jersey residents from the hazards of electronic cigarettes.”

“The rash of lung disease and death nationwide due to e-cigarette use is deeply alarming,” Murphy said. “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,” Murphy continued.

The 10 member task force, who will be chaired by the New Jersey Department of Health Acting Commissioner Judith Persichilli, will examine all options, including executive and legislative, to inspect the risks of electronic cigarette use.

The task force will look into 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
  • Adopting similar policies with respect to traditional cigarettes.

Related: Follow Local News Speaks with Experts About Vaping-Related Illnesses

“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,” Persichilli said.

“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.

Last Wednesday, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland) announced that he is creating a phased-in ban on all vaping products, including electronic smoking devices, nicotine cartridges and containers, and other vapor products.

The Centers for Disease Control announced that 450 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses in 33 states are under investigation. While in New Jersey, three vaping-related illnesses have been confirmed by the Department of Health and 19 others are under investigation.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration sent JUUL Labs Inc a warning letter for their marketing practices, saying that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, even though the company has not supplied scientific evidence showing their products are safer.

“Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful. JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. said.