New Jersey Raises Tobacco Age of Sale to 21

New Jersey Prevention Network and Tobacco-Free for a Healthy NJ will be expanding the STOMP OUT Youth Tobacco Use program to support merchants in making the transition to the new Tobacco 21 law. In addition, NJPN is developing a merchant portal on their website to assist merchants in complying with Tobacco 21.

New Jersey Raises Tobacco Age of Sale to 21

On July 21, 2017, New Jersey became the third state to raise the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.   By signing the bill into law, Governor Christie has taken a bold step to prevent youth from initiating tobacco use and helping to make the next generation tobacco-free.  New Jersey’s effort gives momentum to a growing nationwide movement to raise the age of sale for tobacco to 21.  Following soon after New Jersey’ s bill was signed into law, the State of Maine has also raised the age of sale for tobacco to 21 making it the fourth state to do so.  Tobacco 21 laws have been enacted in the states of Hawaii and California as well as approximately 225 cities and counties nationwide including New York City, Chicago, Boston and St. Louis.

Tobacco companies heavily market to youth. We know that 95% of adult smokers start smoking under the age of 21. In New Jersey, tobacco companies spend over $175 million a year to market their addictive products and much of that marketing is targeted to youth and young adults with flavored tobacco products like cotton candy and chocolate cupcake.  Increasing the tobacco age of sale will help to counter efforts of tobacco companies to target youth and young adults at a critical time when they move from experimenting with tobacco to regular use.  This law will also help keep tobacco out of high schools were younger teens often get tobacco products from older peers.

Cigarette smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death and disability in the United States.  In New Jersey 11,800 adult residents will die from smoking related health issues and 7,700 children in the state have lost at least one parent to a smoking-caused death. New Jersey’s health care expenditures directly caused by tobacco use in the state are $4.06 billion. The tobacco 21 law will protect youth and save lives. To learn more check out , and

Elise McGaughran
Northern Regional Coordinator Tobacco-Free for a Healthy New Jersey