Other cities and states are closely watching New York City’s vote this week to raise the legal age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21, according to U.S. News & World Report.
New York’s measure, approved by the City Council on Wednesday, is part of a larger effort to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco, the article notes. New Jersey legislators are likely to take up a bill that would raise the state’s age limit to 21. Currently, the legal age to purchase tobacco in the state is 19.
Richard Codey, who was governor of New Jersey when the age was raised from 18 to 19, is now a state senator and a sponsor of the new measure to raise the age to 21. “Someone is going to read this in Connecticut or Illinois or somewhere else and go, yeah that’s a good idea,” Codey said. “The only people who are opposed, obviously, are the tobacco companies. As far as I’m concerned, I’m on the side of the angels.” He said he expects the New Jersey bill to pass and take effect early next year.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids supports increasing the tobacco age limit to 21. According to an organization fact sheet, about 50 percent of smokers begin using cigarettes daily before they turn 18, and that more than 75 percent of adult smokers do so before they turn 21. The group says cutting off access at a young age may reduce future adult smoking rates. “Raising the tobacco sale age to 21 would reduce the likelihood that a high school student will be able to legally purchase tobacco products for other students and underage friends,” the fact sheet states.