Regulating the Sale of E-cigarettes


Policy check navyOver the past 10 years, electronic smoking devices (commonly known as e-cigarettes) have rapidly evolved and so has the message of their intended use. Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General found e-cigarette use among high school students increased by 900 percent, with more teens now using e-cigarettes than cigarettes. In addition to youth use, many adult users are using this product with intentions to quit but instead of quitting, users are continuing to use e-cigarettes while still using conventional cigarettes. In 2015, 58.8 percent of the people who recently used e-cigarettes also currently smoked conventional cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General has found that even smoking a few cigarettes a day is dangerous to your health. Now that electronic smoking devices are being regulated by the FDA, we must do our part at the local level as their regulation is being implemented. Through Funding from the New Jersey Department of Health Office of Tobacco Control, Nutrition and Fitness, Tobacco Free for a Healthy NJ (TFHNJ) has been tasked with assisting municipalities to pass policies that help reduce youth use and exposure to tobacco advertising. Luckily there are several ways to do so and many NJ towns are already passing such policies. NJPN provides technical assistance to municipalities looking to regulate the sale of electronic smoking devices.                      To learn more about our FREE merchant education material please click here.



Most e-cigarettes contain an addictive substance called nicotine which is derived from the tobacco plant. This addictive substance is particularly harmful to youth, as their bodies and brains are still developing. The teen years are critical for brain development, which continues into young adulthood. Young people who use nicotine products in any form, including e-cigarettes, are uniquely at risk for long-lasting effects. Because nicotine affects the development of the brain’s reward                                                     system, continued e-cigarette use can not only lead to nicotine addiction, but it                                                   also can make other drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine more                                                             pleasurable to a teen’s developing brain. Nicotine also affects the development of                                               brain circuits that control attention and learning. Other risks include mood                                                           disorders and permanent problems with impulse control—failure to fight an urge                                               or impulse that may harm oneself or other.



According to a Yale study  published in the Journal of Pediatrics, nearly one in five e-cigarette users has also used e-cigarettes for marijuana, or marijuana by products like hash oil.  Hash oil can be substituted for the nicotine solution in many traditional e-cigarettes, and some vendors sell e-cigarettes specifically designed for use with marijuana leaves or wax infused with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Another concern with e-cigarette use for marijuana is                                                     that it harder to smell thus easier to conceal. Many devices look like pens or lip                                                   gloss.


Communities nationwide are concerned about the growing popularity of electronic smoking devices. To regulate the sales and marketing of these products, many towns are amending their existing tobacco retailer laws so that the definition of “tobacco product” includes e-cigarettes. This is a strong ordinance considering the FDA has updated their definition of a tobacco product to include e-cigarettes and other similar products.

An important strength of licensing is that the government may impose a licensing fee that is sufficient to cover the costs of enforcement. A local tobacco retailer licensing law, on the other hand, empowers local law enforcement to impose meaningful penalties for illegal sales to minors and ensure compliance with all existing laws, ensuring that local communities can prioritize enforcement even when state and federal authorities are unable to do so. For sample language and more details regarding updating the “tobacco” product definition visit:


Prohibiting tobacco retailers near places youth visit reduces tobacco retailer density and limits the availability of and exposure to tobacco products. When more tobacco retailers are located in a given area, residents’ health suffers.  Youth are more likely to start smoking. People who smoke consume more cigarettes per day and have a harder time quitting.  Tobacco retailers cluster in neighborhoods with a high percentage of  low-income residents or residents of color. These communities are targeted by tobacco companies, and they disproportionately suffer the health harms caused by tobacco use. Some policies that help reduce tobacco use and advertising exposure include:

  • Capping the number of retailers in a geographic area
  • Capping the number of retailers relative to population size
  • Requiring a minimum distance between retailers
  • Prohibiting retailers from locating near schools and other youth sensitive areas

Municipalities with Vape Shop Licensing

Westwood | Ordinance

West Orange | Ordinance 

Princeton | Ordinance

East Brunswick | Ordinance

Highland Park | Ordinance 

South Brunswick | Ordinance 


Hanover Township | Ordinance 

Bloomingdale | Ordinance

Little Falls | Ordinance 

Wayne | Ordinance

Montgomery | Ordinance

Cranford | Ordinance 

Hillside | Ordinance

Westfield | Ordinance

To learn more about Smoke Free Outdoor Recreation Area signage, contact your regional coordinator.

Elise McGaughran 

Northern Regional Coordinator

Center for Prevention and Counseling
61 Spring Street
Newton | NJ 07860
P | 973.83.4787
E |

Jenna Giaquinto & Sarah McCart-Knoll

Co-Central Regional Coordinator 

New Jersey Prevention Network
150 Airport Road | Suite 1400
Lakewood | NJ 08701
P | 732.367.0611
E |

Kim Burns

Southern Regional Coordinator 

Atlantic Prevention Resources
626 North Shore Road
Absecon | NJ 08221
P| 609.272.0101
E |