Perth Amboy, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) updated the public on his legislative efforts to address the youth tobacco epidemic, and his oversight efforts related to the increase of vaping-related illnesses and the tragic losses of life. The number of individuals under the age of 21 who use nicotine products has increased dramatically. In New Jersey, an estimated 3,000 kids under the age of 18 become smokers every year. It is also estimated that 143,000 youth under the age of 18 in New Jersey will eventually die prematurely from tobacco use. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that 33 people have died from vaping-related illnesses, while nearly 1,500 others have suffered from vaping-related illnesses.
“I remain deeply concerned about the outbreak of lung illnesses associated with e-cigarette use and vaping products. We are facing a serious problem that needs a comprehensive solution and that’s exactly what I’m working on in Washington,” Congressman Pallone said. “I’ve introduced legislation to reduce youth nicotine addiction and launched an investigation into the public health impacts of e-cigarette products. The increase in the number of teens and young people using e-cigarettes and the sharp rise of vaping-related illnesses and tragic deaths is shocking and unacceptable. Congress must act to end this epidemic before we lose a new generation to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”
Last week, Pallone’s Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on his comprehensive legislation to address the youth tobacco epidemic. The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 would:
- raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years,
- prohibit non-face-to-face sales of all tobacco products,
- make it unlawful for any retailer to market or advertise a tobacco product to any person younger than 21 years of age,
- extend certain advertising restrictions that currently apply to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to all tobacco products,
- prohibit marketing of e-cigarettes to youth,
- prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, and
- provide additional resources to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement and enforce the Tobacco Control Act.
In September, Pallone’s Committee held an oversight hearing on the public health risks of e-cigarettes with officials from FDA, CDC, and state health officials. The Committee is also conducting an investigation into electronic cigarette manufacturers.
“Electronic smoking devices pose a serious health threat and we must work together to protect the safety of New Jersey’s youth,” said New Jersey Department of Health Acting Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who chaired Governor Murphy’s Electronic Smoking Device Task Force. “The Department of Health looks forward to working with legislative partners to strengthen regulation of these devices and increase efforts to keep them out of the hands of young people.”
“We all know that e-cigarettes can be more than just dangerous. They can be deadly,” said Speaker Coughlin. “In conjunction with the Governor and Senate, the Assembly will be moving a package of legislation to more stringently regulate the e-cigarette market, particularly stop the flow of vaping products marketed to our youth. I thank Representative Pallone for taking the lead on this issue at the federal level and I will continue to work with my colleagues to develop strategies to protect our youth and overall public health at the state level.”
“While the dangerous consequences of vaping have exploded into the public consciousness as a public health crisis, we must make sure that our response includes ways to address the continuing dangers of all tobacco products, especially those that pose threats to the health and safety of young people,” said Senator Vitale. “Vaping confronts us with a more immediate challenge, but we also have to do more to reduce the continuing threat of all tobacco products. We need to respond to this challenge in a multi-faceted way and action is needed at the federal and state levels. I commend Congressman Pallone for his plan to harness the power of the federal government in every way possible, including enforcement of the FDA’s rules and regulations and the actions to counter advertising and marketing aimed at young people.”
“The vaping epidemic has alarmingly spread wide across the United States,” said Thomas Shanahan, Chief Hospital Executive, Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center. “We are committed to our community to change this health crisis.”
“Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes, PAVe, is grateful to Congressman Pallone for his legislation, the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019. We know firsthand the devastating toll that this current youth vaping epidemic, the most serious adolescent public health crisis our country has faced in decades, is taking on families across the country,” said Dorian Fuhrman, Co-Founder, Parents Against Vaping e-Cigarettes. “Now more than ever we need comprehensive legislation to ban flavored tobacco products, raise the age to purchase these products to 21, and prevent these companies from marketing directly to our kids. It’s time to stop them once and for all.”