(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and electronic cigarette devices from 19 to 21 in New Jersey gained Assembly panel approval on Thursday.
"Many people start smoking in their teens because of peer pressure or the desire to fit in," Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Most teens feel invincible at that age and can't fully comprehend the potential for addiction as well as the devastating long-term effects smoking can have on their health. Raising the purchasing age would give them the chance to mature more before making this potentially life-altering decision."
Specifically, the bill (A-2320) raises the minimum age for purchasing tobacco and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21, and raises the minimum age from 19 to 21 years of a person to whom a vendor may sell, offer for sale, distribute, give or furnish such products in New Jersey.
"Smoking is responsible for nearly half a million deaths in the Unites States each year," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "In the last five years, cigarette smoking declined among middle and high school students, an encouraging trend. But there are still far too many young people engaging in smoking so it's clear we need to do more to help deter them from picking up this dangerous and deadly habit."
If this legislation were to become law, then New Jersey would become just the second state to raise the minimum age requirement to purchase tobacco to 21, along with Hawaii.
The bill would also amend various related statutes concerning penalties, fines, signage requirements, non-face-to-face transactions, and enforcement provisions to reflect the increased minimum age.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.