Bill to raise minimum smoking age clears senate

NEW JERSEY (WTXF) Legislation raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21 years of age was approved by the Senate Thursday.

“Tobacco, in all its forms, is a killer. Every day, more of our youth become addicted and we simply can’t allow it to continue,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex, Morris). “This measure will save lives and it will save taxpayers billions of dollars in health care costs.”

According to a press release, New Jersey would be the second state, after Hawaii, to adopt legislation restricting access to nicotine and tobacco before age 21. In October 2013, New York City enacted an ordinance prohibiting retailers in New York City from selling cigarettes, tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21. The ordinance took effect in May 2014.

The minimum age to purchase tobacco products in all but four states is 18. The minimum age is 19 in New Jersey, Alabama, Alaska, Utah, and the District of Columbia.  New Jersey increased the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 19 in 2006. Some localities in the United States have imposed minimum ages in excess of 19, including 16 towns in New Jersey which have raised the age to 21.

The bill, S-359, was approved by the Senate with a vote of 23-14. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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