Gov. Phil Murphy on Sept. 12 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, Legislature, and public within 21 days.

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

Use of electronic cigarettes and/or vaping on school grounds is prohibited under state law. The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) strongly supports the prohibition.

Specifically, N.J.S.A.  26:3D-55 et seq., the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, prohibits smoking, the use of any tobacco product or electronic smoking device in any area of any building of, or on the grounds of, any public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school, regardless of whether the area is an indoor public place or is outdoors.

The NJSBA has previously made information available about the dangers of vaping, in a Jan. 29, 2019  School Board Notes article, and in Vaping Resources for Schools, a webpage which features a series of videos and other information.

Legislators and advocates applauded the governor’s 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.”

“We applaud Gov. 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.”

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 N.J. Department of Health Acting Commissioner Judith 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.

A copy of the executive order is available here.