How Does NJ Law Handle e-Cigarettes?

Oxford Dictionary has named “Vape” as its 2014 word of the year. To “vape” means to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. Always trending, last year’s Oxford English Dictionary word of the year was “selfie”. This year’s buzzword, vape, is a cause for many concerns. For example, what are the legal ramifications in NJ of vaping, and how does it differ legally from cigarettes? Can you be arrested for selling e-cigarettes to minors in New Jersey? Do current smoking bans apply to e-cigarettes in NJ?

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are devices designed to mimic cigarettes. The metal tubes are made to look like real cigarettes and contain a cartridge filled with a nicotine-laced liquid that is vaporized by a battery-powered heating element. The nicotine vapor is inhaled by smokers when they draw on the device, as they would a regular cigarette.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that e-cigarette use has tripled among teenagers in just two years. More than a quarter of a million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used electronic cigarettes in 2013. Today, 4.5 percent of high-school students use e-cigarettes on a regular basis, and 12 percent have tried them at least once. The CDC also found that 44 percent of non-smoking youth who had ever used e-cigarettes said they intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year. Though some people thing vaping is a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products, electronic cigarettes still have addictive nicotine, potential carcinogens and can hinder lung function.

Know the Law

In 2010, New Jersey was the first state in the nation to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places including all bars and restaurants, strip clubs, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, as well as outside portions of school grounds and workplaces.

Sales to Persons Under 18 Years of Age (N.J.S.A. 2A:170-51.4)

It is prohibited for any person, either directly or indirectly by an agent or employee, or by a vending machine owned by the person or located in the person’s establishment, shall sell, offer for sale, distribute for commercial purpose at no cost or minimal cost or with coupons or rebate offers, give or furnish, to a person under 18 years of age, any cigarettes made of tobacco or of any other matter or substance which can be smoked, any electronic smoking devices (e.g. electronic cigarettes), any cigarette paper or tobacco in any form, including smokeless tobacco. New Jersey is one of five states that has set a minimum age of 18 for tobacco sales however, the CDC still reports that nine out of ten smokers tried their first cigarette by the age of 18. New Jersey’s senate in June approved a bill to raise the purchase age to 21; the house is expected to vote next year.

Public Health Concerns (N.J.S.A. 26:3D-57)

The product is ‘smoked’, therefore it is not permissible under the 2006 New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act (NJSFAA). The NJSFAA, defines “smoking” as the burning of, inhaling from, exhaling the smoke from, or the possession of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco or any other matter that can be smoked.

Nuisance (N.J.S.A. 26:3-46)

The New Jersey general public nuisance code may also apply, separate and apart from the NJSFAA. It is unclear what byproducts are in the smoke that is emitted from the e-cigarette, and therefore, the safety of the smoke is called into question. This law specifically refers to “gases or vapors … that are injurious to the health of the inhabitants.”

When you are young, a criminal arrest can seem like no big deal. But it is. Youthful mistakes can lead to adult consequences. Even if your child is not convicted of a crime, a criminal arrest can remain on his or her public record for years. If he or she is convicted, they may be expelled from school, dismissed from a sports team, or fired from a job. Potential employers, college admissions counselors and others with an influence over his or her bright future may deny opportunities after discovering a criminal record during background checks. To discuss your situation with an experienced defense attorney, contact our NJ criminal attorneys at Villani & DeLuca by calling 732-965-3350. We offer a complimentary initial consultation and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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