The vape giant Juul recently donated to political organizations that have close relationships with both New Jersey state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Governor Phil Murphy. The donations from Juul Labs came even after Stephen Sweeney proposed a ban on all vaping products and pushed a bill that would severely restrict their sales in New Jersey. Juul donated $7,500 to General Majority, a super PAC linked to Sweeney. The donation was dated only two weeks after the Senate and Assembly passed bill NJ A5922, which was supported by Sweeney. NJ A5922 would ban the sale of any vape products with more than 2% nicotine. This bill would have ultimately banned Juul’s products from being sold in any stores in New Jersey. However, Governor Murphy vetoed the bill only a few days later.
In September, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he would push to make New Jersey the first state to ban all vaping products. This came as a result of the many vapers suffering from severe lung illnesses across the country that was believed to be caused by vaping. Sweeney proposed a ban on the sale of both tobacco and cannabis-based vape products in New Jersey, he withdrew from that action when Governor Murphy put together a vape task force. According to files within the IRS, Juul has donated $50,350 to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) between August and September 2019 when Governor Murphy was the organization’s vice-chair. However, DGA spokesperson David Turner said Governor Murphy did not request these donations.
Sweeney was also a leading sponsor of NJ S4223. This bill would effectively ban many of the most popular products from vape manufacturers, including Juul. NJ S4223 would restrict sales to shops where at least 50 percent of sales are from vape products, removing some convenience stores, gas stations, and other small retailers from this marketplace. Juul spokesperson, Austin Finan, said in a statement. “We remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with lawmakers, attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to achieve those goals."
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New Jersey A5922 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session. (2020). Retrieved 6 May 2020, from https://legiscan.com/NJ/bill/A5922/2018
Friedman, M. (2020). Juul donated to New Jersey politicians even as they considered vaping restrictions. Retrieved 6 May 2020, from https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2020/05/04/juul-donated-to-new-jersey-politicians-even-as-they-considered-vaping-restrictions-1281649
Vecchione, A. (2020). Sweeney urges vaping businesses to join effort to combat crisis - NJBIZ. Retrieved 6 May 2020, from https://njbiz.com/sweeney-urges-vaping-businesses-join-effort-combat-crisis/
Here Are The 33 Bills NJ Gov. Phil Murphy Rejected This Week. (2020). Retrieved 6 May 2020, from https://patch.com/new-jersey/manasquan/here-are-33-bills-nj-gov-phil-murphy-rejected-week