NJ Raises Smoking Age to 21

Christie took action on a broad range of legislation on Friday

The smoking age will soon be 21 in New Jersey. Daniel Barry/Getty Images

New Jersey will soon prohibit the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 thanks to a bill (S359) sponsored by state Sens. Richard Codey and Joe Vitale and signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie on Friday.

“By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, 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,” Christie said in a statement following his action on the bill.

“My mother died from the effects of smoking, and no one should lose their life due to any addictive substance. Additionally, the less people who develop costly tobacco habits that can cause health problems, such as lung cancer, heart disease and developmental issues, the less strain there will be on our healthcare system.”

According to a statement released by Codey and Vitale following the governor’s action on the bill, health care costs in New Jersey directly caused by smoking are upwards of $4 billion annually.

“The governor and I have finally found an issue that we agree on — helping to save lives,” said Codey. “Every day, more of our youth become addicted and we simply can’t allow it to continue. This law will help prevent the deadly consequences of smoking at the same time it will save taxpayers billions of dollars in health care costs.”

New Jersey is now the third state — along with California and Hawaii — to raise the smoking age to 21. The previous smoking age was 19. The new law will take effect Nov. 1.

In addition to the smoking bill, Christie took action on a broad range of other legislation on Friday. Here is a list of notable bills:

  • S3027- Establishes guidelines to cut state food waste in half by 2050. Bill co-sponsor state Sen. Bob Smith said that “Wasting food does not make economic or environmental sense.”
  • S291- Authorizes health care providers to engage in telemedicine and telehealth.
  •  A1662, A3944, S2970, S2721- These four bills relate to curbing New Jersey’s opiate crisis. They will implement measures requiring the Department of Human Services to post daily information about the number of beds available daily for those seeking recovery treatment, create a pathway for hospice care facilities to dispose of medication, help inform students and parents of the opiate epidemic and update terminology relating to those in recovery or suffering from addiction.
  • A1645, S3352, S3353, S3354, S3240, S3241- Christie signed a slew of environmental bills aimed at increasing flexibility for towns and counties to use funding appropriated for environmental initiatives and create more open space preservation opportunities.
  • S2834- The Water Accountability Act imposes testing and infrastructure requirements to ensure clean drinking water to state residents. Bill sponsor state Sen. Kip Bateman said that “this legislation demands that public water systems make the improvements necessary to keep our families safe.”
  • SJR113– This resolution clarifies language to prevent confusion in court about the Open Public Records Act as it pertains to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
  • SJR105- Designates August 29, 2017 as Governor James Florio Day in New Jersey. According to bill sponsor state Sen. Patrick Diegnan, Florio’s tenure “provided a model for facing up to the economic and social challenges of our times.”
  • AJR137- Urges President Donald Trump and his administration not to impose restrictions on Internet gaming.
NJ Raises Smoking Age to 21