New Jersey law raising smoking age to 21 takes effect

TRENTON, N.J. (WPVI) -- Starting Wednesday, New Jersey will raise its smoking age to 21.

The restriction applies to tobacco products and electronic smoking devices. Previously, the age was 19.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill into law in July. Christie cited the strain on the health care system caused by tobacco-related illnesses when he made his decision. Reports show smoking causes about $4 billion in health care costs to New Jersey each year.

Democratic Sens. Richard Codey and Joseph Vitale co-sponsored the bill Christie signed into law. Vitale says making it more difficult to buy cigarettes "will help prevent our youth from becoming lifelong smokers and suffering the long-term effects of the habit."

One smoker who started young says the law makes sense.

"I have tried quit smoking plenty of times and it just has not worked, so if feel if I had to wait to 21 to buy and not 18-19 years old to get my hands on them, I probably never would have started. I would have known better," said Lauren Sherwood.

Hawaii and California are the only other states where the smoking age is 21.

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