TRENTON -- Gov. Chris Christie now gets to decide whether to raise the age for tobacco product purchases in New Jersey from 19 to 21.
The state Assembly on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that health advocates have argued would help prevent future smokers. They have pointed to federal data that says 90 percent of tobacco users begin before they turn 21 Wholesale Cigarettes For Sale.
But Christie vetoed a similar proposal last year, which was opposed by food retailers and other convenience store operators who complained the loss of ancillary sales like coffee and sandwiches would have cut deep into their sales.
If signed, the bill (A2320) could cost the state $16 million in tax revenue.
The bill passed the Assembly by a 53-16 vote. The Senate approved it 23-14 last year.
"Many people start smoking in their teens because of peer pressure or the desire to fit in," Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) said.
"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," she said. "Raising the purchasing age would give them the chance to mature more before making this potentially life-altering decision."
The nonpartisan state Office of Legislative Services estimated the state would lose $4 Cigarettes Online Usa Only.5 million to $12 million in the first year of implementation, and $5.6 million to $15.7 million the following year in tax revenue.
The amount of losses would diminish by 4 percent a year as more people quit smoking.
Fifteen municipalities have enacted ordinances raising the legal age of tobacco and e-cigarette sales from 19 to 21. But New Jersey would only be the third state to have the 21 and under ban for smoking products if the bill is signed into law. The only two with the rule are California and Hawaii.
Health advocates cheered the vote.
"There are some 11,800 annual adult deaths due to smoking in New Jersey. Research shows that if a person does not begin smoking at a young age, they are much less likely to ever smoke," Brian Shott Wholesale Newport Cigarettes Online, of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Wholesale Usa Cigarettes.
"Tobacco continues to claim too many lives and is the leading cause of preventable death," he said. "If enacted this law will not only save lives, it will dramatically cut health care costs."