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New Jersey Assembly Continues To Pursue Ban On Flavored E-Liquids


In a move that could trigger the widest and most harsh round of regulation yet to the vaping industry in the United States, the state legislature in New Jersey this week moved toward a complete ban on all e-liquid flavorings.

The measure passed the state Assembly's health committee on a 7-2 vote Monday, though it still has to be approved by both state houses in full before being sent to the governor.

The arguments against flavoring are "all about the kids," of course. And while this author certainly wouldn't approve of anything vape-related specifically targeted at children. Still, I'll posit the simple yet true fact that plenty of adults (including most everyone I know) still enjoy the flavor of fruits, candies, coffees, and desserts. It's not enough to argue that a flavor *could* appeal to kids, instead we need clear and firm regulation to stop vape companies from *marketing or selling to* anyone underage.

Flavors have proved effective in helping smokers quit as well, at least anecdotally. A survey published by vape advocacy group CASAA in early 2016 found that of 27,343 adult respondents, 72 percent of quitters said that a variety of interesting flavors helped them quit, while 53 percent of respondents who still smoke said flavor variety was helping them in their effort to quit. The flavors themselves may pose an issue – as the law is written, e-liquid flavors would be limited to tobacco, clove, and menthol, much as cigarettes are currently regulated. The problem is variation – RY4 is a classic tobacco flavor, but there's no arguing that different variants include vanilla and caramel tones, sometimes in heavy amounts. And this is just one of the myriad flavors available in the "tobacco vapes" category – since all flavors are "artificial" when it comes to vapor products, it may be much more difficult to define what does and doesn't fit an approved flavor category.

A similar, though admittedly less-convincing case could be made for fruit-and-menthol combos or clove variants. The point is – where will regulation stop and start? How will this legislation specifically address flavors – will manufacturers have to submit their flavors to a government taste-tester for review prior to marketing? What would the appeals process look like if the state approved one brand of flavor extract but not others – could antitrust accusations be brought?

While the banning of flavors is wholeheartedly wrongheaded in my personal opinion (and, apparently, the vast majority of vapers who've successfully quit smoking), banning some while allowing others seems to raise much thornier issues. This is another issue we'll watch with interest as it makes its way through the legislature.