New Jersey lawmakers not sold on bill to raise tobacco-buying age
Northwest New Jersey lawmakers say they're well aware of smoking's adverse effects, but the choice to buy tobacco is one all adults should be allowed to make for themselves.
The state Senate passed a bill in late June to raise the age to buy tobacco and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21. If it becomes law, New Jersey would become the first state to set the age at 21. Pennsylvania allows anyone 18 and older to purchase tobacco.
At least one prevention advocate says it will discourage at least a few people from smoking, potentially saving lives.
Sen. Michael Doherty, whose district includes parts of Warren and Hunterdon counties, said he voted against the bill because he supports limited government. It's better to educate people about the consequences of smoking, the Republican said.
"If you're old enough to join the military and fight and die for your country, you should be old enough to buy cigarettes," Doherty said. "I do not smoke, I never have smoked, I do not like smoking, but I do have a libertarian streak in me."