COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two weeks after Hawaii made history as the first state to raise the sales age for tobacco to 21, the New Jersey State Assembly tonight joins the State Senate in passing a bill to raise the tobacco sale age to 21 in New Jersey. Despite heavy lobbying by the tobacco industry, the bill received bipartisan support in a decisive 49-22 vote. The issue now rests solely with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose signature is required by next Monday for the bill to become law.
In a recent passionate plea for an enlightened view on the struggles of addiction, Christie detailed his mother's own tragic fight with nicotine and smoking. "My mother was a smoker. She smoked her whole life, she was addicted to nicotine" Christie exclaimed. "She tried everything she could to quit. She had the gum, the patches, hypnosis, she tried everything. She couldn't quit."
This very same addiction is poised to kill 143,000 children alive today in New Jersey if nothing is done to alter the current trajectory. Nicotine and tobacco also costs the state over $7 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity.
Luckily, Christie has been provided an option to fight this epidemic by the New Jersey Legislators. These bills come to his desk after 15 cities in the state have already passed their own Tobacco 21 ordinances, and after every major public health and medical organization have endorsed the measure.
Opponents argued that teens who were "old enough to fight are old enough to smoke." However, this argument was dealt a body blow by the US Military earlier this month when every base commander in Hawaii voluntarily chose to honor Hawaii's age 21 law in commissaries and base exchanges. Rear Admiral John Fuller wrote, "If someone is old enough to fight for their country, they should be free from addiction to a deadly drug."
And age 21 is effective in preventing that addiction. It has been shown to reduce high school smoking by half, and, according to the exhaustive Institute of Medicine report on the subject, would save 4.2 million years of life among kids alive today.
It's also popular among voters who support it at 70-75% levels in polls around the country. Last week's extensive Arizona poll showed equal 72% support among both Republicans and Democrats. And also importantly for Governor Christie, age 21 for tobacco costs taxpayers virtually nothing.
The time has come for Governor Christie to take the logical, effective and values-driven step to raise the tobacco age to 21 in New Jersey, saving thousands of lives and setting a precedent of leadership for other states to follow.
SOURCE Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation