July 21, 2017
In an effort to curb smoking among the state's youth, New Jersey will once again raise the age requirement to buy tobacco products.
Gov. Chris Christie, who pocket vetoed a similar bill in January 2016, signed a bill Friday that changes the age to buy cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products from 19 to 21. The law will go into effect on Nov. 1.
“By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21," Christie said, "we are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place."
The governor also recalled how his mother died from the effects of smoking, a personal tragedy he also shared while campaigning for president in and discussing addiction.
State Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, is one of the main sponsors of the legislation. He's pushed for raising the age to 21 since 2013, and during his brief stint as governor signed legislation that raised the age from 18 to 19 in 2006.
“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,” Codey said in May 2016 after the legislation again passed the Senate.
“This measure will save lives, and it will save taxpayers billions of dollars in health care costs.”
The legislation signed Friday also alters penalties for selling tobacco products to underage smokers to reflect the change in age requirement.