By Cleve Bryan


MARLTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey has moved one step closer to banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. State lawmakers approved a number of anti-vaping and smoking bills on Thursday that is also targeting menthol cigarettes.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction, essentially,” Popie’s Vapor Lounge owner Robert Eichenberger said.

With their livelihoods on the line, vape shop owners are calling foul as New Jersey moves toward banning flavored vape and e-cigarette products, a move they say essentially bans their industry.

“The business was doing fine,” Kristy Hartman said.

Hartman, who owned Middlesex Vapes, testified before the Assembly Health Committee on Thursday that she recently had to close her shop.

The CDC has reported more than 2,000 vaping-related illnesses this year and 40 deaths have caused feared among consumers and compelled lawmakers to regulate the industry.

“The business went down I would say, at least 50%, and I just couldn’t maintain that any longer,” Hartman said.

Measures to ban flavored vape, e-cigarette, and methanol tobacco products passed Senate and Assembly committees as well as measures to increase fines on businesses that sell to minors.

Experts say one in four teens are using vape and e-cigarette products.

Cardiologist Jacqueline Schwanwede says count her son among the addicted.

“I asked him how he got it and he got it at a football game at school when he was 16 — his junior year,” Schwanwede said.

“If we don’t take action, another generation of kids will be addicted by big tobacco to nicotine and for many of them, it will be a lifelong addiction,” Assembly Health Committee Chairman Herb Conaway said.

While many believe banning flavored vape products will lower teenage usage, critics say it will only push teens and adults to black-market sellers.

“So people that don’t know what they’re doing, you could cause a bigger problem and you could have more people sick,” Eichenberger said.

All of Thursday’s vaping regulations that passed committees still have several more hurdles to become law.

Many people are just becoming aware of the proposed menthol cigarette ban, something that could anger many smokers and convenience store owners.