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New Jersey Becomes Just Third State to Raise Tobacco Purchasing Age to 21 as Vainieri Huttle & Conaway Bill is Signed into Law

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 was signed into law on Friday, making New Jersey just the third state in the nation, behind Hawaii and California, to raise the minimum age to 21.

“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 will give them the chance to mature more before making this potentially life-altering decision.”

Specifically, the law (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.”

The law also amends various related statutes concerning penalties, fines, signage requirements, non-face-to-face transactions, and enforcement provisions to reflect the increased minimum age.