Vitale Statement On Increasing Age From 18 To 19 To Buy Cigarettes

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Assembly’s final legislative approval, by a vote of 58 to 16 with four abstentions, of a bill he sponsored with Governor Codey to increase the age at which vendors can legally sell cigarettes from 18 to 19:

“Most people have something done in the impetuousness of youth that they regret. Whether it was that ridiculous haircut that you thought made you look ‘cool,’ or the music you listened to, or the clothes you wore, and how, in hindsight none of it was really the best idea, but at the time, seemed like the only way to fit in. Even today, how many piercings and tattoos are done, and later undone, when the wisdom of maturity kicks in?

“The difference for smokers, however, is that, assuming they regret their decision to start smoking, nicotine addiction isn’t as easily removed as a tattoo. And, in the case of smokers, a decision made in the impetuousness of youth could end up costing them their lives in the long run.

“Under this bill, we’re making it much harder for teen smokers to get access to their habit. We’re increasing the age to purchase cigarettes, hoping that, by the time they’re old enough to buy a pack on their own, that they possess enough maturity and common sense to never start smoking in the first place.

“We all have things we regret in our pasts, but a bad haircut or a tattoo won’t prematurely end our lives. The same can’t be said about smokers who start at an early age. We need to do everything within our power to keep kids away from cigarettes as long as possible, so that, when the time comes, they have the wisdom and maturity to do the right thing.”