health

One of New Jersey’s most recent efforts to combat gun violence is off to a busy start.

Judges have approved requests to use the state’s new “red flag” law more than once a day on average since it took effect on Sept. 1. Under the legislation, law enforcement agencies can confiscate the guns of a person who poses a threat to themselves or others after getting judicial approval.

Such laws are becoming more common across the U.S. as states try out new strategies to prevent future mass shootings and reduce overall gun violence, including suicides.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has put together a 10-member task force charged with making recommendations on how the state can deal with what officials have called the “epidemic” of electronic cigarette use.

The announcement came as the U.S. continues to grapple with a mysterious respiratory illness related to vaping that has sickened at least three people in New Jersey with another 19 cases under investigation by state health officials.

New Jersey lawmakers are weighing a ban on the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in the state’s more than 2,200 pharmacies.

A proposal floated by Democratic legislators would prohibit the sale of cigarettes and vaping products in pharmacies and any retailers that contain pharmacies, including many grocery stores.

“To have medical services and then sell cigarettes is crazy,” said state Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, who is chairman of the Senate’s health committee. “I think it’s not in the public interest — certainly not in the public health interest — to do that.”

New Jersey lawmakers want the state’s nearly 300 water utilities to provide more information about water quality and be held accountable for the data they publish.

State legislators conducted a hearing Tuesday amid an ongoing public-health crisis in Newark, where recent tests showed elevated lead levels in the drinking water of two homes.

Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, said it was crucial that the public has access to information about local water quality.

New Jersey is eyeing a crackdown on flavored e-cigarettes, which have been associated with a recent string of pulmonary illnesses across the country and are frequently blamed for ensnaring children and young adults into an addictive habit.

During the WBGO's “Ask Governor Murphy” call-in show Wednesday night, a caller asked Gov. Phil Murphy what he thought about Michigan’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

“I like that, I have to say. [My] first reaction is it’s something … we should look at,” Murphy said.

New Jersey service providers who work with drug users say the state has come a long way in implementing “harm reduction” strategies but that more can be done.

Hundreds of public health workers gathered in Trenton on Wednesday for a harm reduction workshop organized by the Department of Health, as the state continues to battle a growing opioid crisis that contributed to a suspected 3,118 drug overdose deaths in 2018.

New Jersey will require certain hospitals to have intervention programs aimed at breaking the cycle of violence for the state’s most at-risk residents, under a package of new laws signed Monday.

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, said research has shown that the victims of violence are more likely to become victims again or even perpetrators in the future, which is why intervention programs are crucial.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed four bills Wednesday aimed at reducing the state’s high rates of maternal and infant mortality, which are among the worst in the nation.

“We can and we will make New Jersey the safest place to give birth in the United States of America,” said first lady Tammy Murphy at the Newark bill signing.

The new laws will block Medicaid from paying for medically unnecessary cesarean section deliveries and increase access to doulas, who help expectant mothers through childbirth.