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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Legislative Recap: Tobacco Restrictions

2016 July 28

In the past year and a half, several states have passed laws changing the age at which one can legally smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products.

So far in 2016, five different states, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts and Vermont, have voted on legislation aimed at increasing the legal smoking age to 21.

The California bill prohibits an individual under 21 from purchasing tobacco products. However, some skeptics questioned the effectiveness of such a measure. State Senator John Moorlach pointed out that most minors who consume tobacco products are probably not concerned about their non-compliance. “I don’t expect human nature to change, whether in or out of a university,” he said.

A similar bill in New Jersey made it past the Senate and House votes, only to be vetoed by Governor Chris Christie in June. The bill would have increased the minimum age of tobacco consumption from 19 to 21, which supporters of the bill say would have been a huge step in reducing health problems; according to some experts 90 percent of smokers begin before they are 21 years old. Speaking on Assembly bill 3254, a previous iteration of the June bill, Democratic State Senator Richard Codey expressed his disappointment in the Governor and for the people and health of the state.

Again, another state, Illinois, voted to increase the legal smoking age to 21. One of the bill’s sponsors, state senator John Mulroe, said “we are going to save lives by increasing the age from 18 to 21, because studies have ...

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