LEGAL AGE TO BUY TOBACCO PRODUCTS IN NJ MIGHT GO UP

Phil Gregory, WBGO News

A law that took effect on January first made Hawaii the first state to boost the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, and New Jersey might not be far behind.

Before the legislative session ends next week, Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle says she hopes the New Jersey Assembly gives final approval to her bill raising the current minimum purchase age of 19.

"We have 15 municipalities in New Jersey that have already raised the smoking age. Obviously having every municipality in the state participating would be much more effective."

John Schachter with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids says boosting the minimum purchase age to 21 would significantly reduce smoking.

"It will help keep tobacco out of high schools when younger teens often obtain tobacco products from older students. 95 percent of adult smokers started when they were 21. If we can get you to 21 without being a smoker, you're almost certainly never going to be a smoker."

Supporters say the potential loss of state revenue from raising the purchase age would be far less than what's spent on smoking-related health care costs.