Nearly all smokers start as kids or young adults. National data shows that about 95% of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. About 580 kids under the age of 18 become regular smokers each day. Tobacco companies intentionally market to youth knowing that nearly all users become addicted before the age of 21. Raising the minimum legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 is a promising strategy to reduce smoking, the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems and other tobacco use among youth. A March 2015 report by the National Academy of Medicine strongly concluded that raising tobacco age of sale to 21 will significantly reduce the number of youth who start smoking. Therefore, reducing smoking caused deaths and immediately improve the health of adolescents and young adults. Additionally, research shows that kids often turn to older friends and classmates as a source of cigarettes. Raising the age of sale to 21 will keep tobacco out of high schools. Tobacco-Free for a Healthy NJ and its collaborative partners, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Cancer Society are hard at work advocating to raise the minimum legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21 throughout New Jersey. To date, 25 municipalities have raised the age of sale to 21 including Trenton, the state capital. At the Statehouse, the Tobacco 21 bill has moved out of the appropriations committee and now moves on the full house for approval which could eventually result in the State of New Jersey raising the legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21 should the Governor sign it into law. For more information about Tobacco-Free for a Healthy NJ initiatives, please visit NJPN.org.
Northern Regional Coordinator
Tobacco-Free for a Healthy New Jersey
Center for Prevention and Counseling