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Health

New Jersey becomes 3rd state to raise smoking age to 21

Ben Schmitt
| Monday, July 24, 2017, 2:54 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

New Jersey is about to become the third state to raise its smoking age to 21, after Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation 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.

The law goes into effect in November, philly.com reported. New Jersey joins Hawaii and California as states that have raised the smoking-purchase age from 19 to 21, according to lawmakers in Trenton.

Vendors licensed to sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, would be subject to fines of up to $1,000 for violating the law.

By the latest estimates, tobacco still kills 480,000 to 540,000 people in the United States annually — far more than all other drug-related deaths, murders and car crashes combined.

Reports show smoking causes about $4 billion in health care costs to New Jersey each year, said Democratic Sens. Richard Codey and Joseph Vitale, co-sponsors of the bill Christie signed into law. That amount doesn't include costs related to secondhand smoke or smokeless tobacco use, they said.

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