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Fort Lee Wants to Increase Tobacco Buying Age

October 19th, 2015 00:00
Smoking man

Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy, non-profit organization acting in Fort Lee, pushed for a smoking ban in the borough’s public parks and facilities in 2014 and achieved success there. This year it wants to go further and proposed to increase tobacco buying age from 19 to 21.

They believe that the initiative will meet similar success as its major aim is to reduce smoking rates among young people and at the same time to help lower state’s expences on smoking related diseases that totally equal $3 billion annually.

A number of cities and towns in New Jersey have already raised tobacco buying age to 21. First was Englewood that last summer adopted such a law. Then its example was followed by Teaneck, Bogota, Westwood, Bergenfield, and Tenafly.

Representatives from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids say that majority of smokers (90%) start smoking at an age under 21. That is the reason why young people under this age should be prevented from tobacco products and electronic devices.

Paramus and Edgewater discussed this summer the possibility to pass a tobacco 21 ordinance, but the decision was delayed because of the preemption and the risk for problems with state legislation.

Back in 2006 in the New Jersey there was established a minimum age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes at 19.

However, Karen Blumenfeld, GASP’s executive director, told that towns which increased to 21 tobacco buying age faced no problems with state legislation. Instead, state’s Office of Legislative Services issued recently a memo stating a municipality “would not be prohibited from establishing a higher minimum age for the lawful sale of tobacco within its boundaries.”

However, the initiative has not only supportes but oppoers too. One of them is Councilman Joseph Cervieri, who told it sounds a paradox that a soldier under the drinking age coming to Fort Lee would not be able to buy a pack of Winston White cigarettes. He considers this breaks personal freedoms.

In his turn, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said that the proposal needs a further consideration in order to examine all its pros and cons. To be said that Tobacco 21 legislation was adopted in Massachusetts nearly 10 years ago and then its example was followed by the New York City, Suffolk County in New York and Hawaii.