TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey legislators have introduced a bill that would require convenience stores to sell at least one smoking cessation product.
The legislation, A6020/S4114, was introduced Nov. 15 by assembly members Herb Conaway Jr., and Angelica Jimenez. It would require any entity other than a cigar shop that sells any tobacco product to maintain a stock of and offer for sale at least one type of nicotine replacement therapy drug, device or combination product that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cessation of tobacco use.
Any entity subject to the requirement would have the discretion to determine the number and type of nicotine replacement therapy products that it would sell, and the quantity of the products offered for sale, according to the current version of the proposed bill. The cessation product or products would need to be located behind the sales counter and retailers would need to provide printed notice within the store that nicotine replacement products are available for sale. Retailers would also need to display the logo, phone number and website of the NJ Smoking Quitline.
In a column submitted to NJ.com, State Sen. Richard Codey and Assemblyman Herb Conaway said as lawmakers they must “do everything possible to create policies and systems that promote wellness in the Garden State, especially in areas where we’ve seemed to lose ground during the pandemic.” They reference a report by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that showed cigarette sales had climbed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smoking claims the lives of 11,800 New Jersey adults every year and 143,000 of the state’s children will ultimately die prematurely from smoking, Codey and Conaway said.
“Putting smoking cessation products in the stores where an overwhelming majority of cigarettes are sold is a good place to start,” the legislators said in the column. “With tobacco sales a top source of revenue for the convenience-store industry, there is little incentive for the retailers to carry [nicotine replacement therapy products]. In fact, customers who smoke tend to be regulars at convenience stores. With these retailers more densely located in neighborhoods with more low-income and marginalized residents, access to potentially life-saving NRT products is not equitable.”
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many consumers to revert to comfort habits, including indulging in merchandise categories that eased some of their stress, according to the latest NACS State of the Industry (SOI) report. One of the categories that benefited from these practices in 2020 was cigarettes, according to the report, which is based on data submitted by retail companies participating in the annual NACS SOI survey. The 2020 survey was open from December 2020 through March 2021.
Cigarette sales accounted for 27.8% of in-store sales in 2020, topping $545,000 per store annually, the report said. Other tobacco products (OTP) made up 6.9% of in-store sales. Nearly 100% of c-stores reported selling cigarettes and OTP.
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