A bill passed this week in New Jersey will require vape shops and most tobacco retailers to keep nicotine gum or other nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products in stock and available for sale. The bill exempts cigar shops from the requirement.
The bill, A6020/S4114, was passed Monday by the state Senate on a 25-12 vote. It was approved by the state Assembly on a 50-18 vote in December. The bill will now go to Governor Phil Murphy to be signed into law or vetoed.
If the bill becomes law it will require “any entity that sells, offers for sale, or distributes for commercial purpose any tobacco product to maintain a stock of, and offer for retail sale, at least one type of nicotine replacement therapy drug, device, or combination product that has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for cessation of tobacco use.”
Retailers can choose from all FDA-approved NRT products, which include nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges. All approved NRT products are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, meaning they can be sold in any retail outlet without a prescription.
The bill doesn’t mandate which products must be available for sale or how many packages must be kept on hand. However, retailers that sell out of NRT products must place a refill order within five days and must be restocked within 14 days, or face a $250 fine.
The NRT products must be kept behind the counter. Retailers must display a printed notice that NRT products are available in the store, and another notice containing information about the New Jersey Smoking Quitline.
A randomized controlled trial published in 2019 found vaping twice as effective as NRT products in helping people quit cigarettes when both were offered with some counseling. The Cochrane Review also concluded that vaping is effective for smoking cessation, based on its review of 50 studies. A recent study showed that 28 percent of smokers with no intention of quitting stopped smoking when they vaped daily.
There is no scientific evidence that NRT products help vapers quit e-cigarettes. However, there is strong anecdotal evidence that most vape shop customers have already unsuccessfully tried NRT products to quit smoking before they discovered vaping.
The bill has no provision for reimbursing vape shop owners’ cost to replace NRT products that expire on store shelves.