A Tobacco Control Policy & Legal Resource Center
Supporting Smokefree Air & Tobacco-Free Lives

Raising Age of Sale to 21

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

To reduce the young adult initiation and smoking rates, jurisdictions are requiring that the age of sale be greater than 18. The trend is requiring the age of sale be 21, since recent studies and surveys indicate that minimum age of sale will most greatly reduce youth access and initiation.

The State of Hawaii is the first state to require that age of sale be 21 for all tobacco and electronic smoking devices. Other states are considering statewide 21 minimum sale laws. On the local level, Massachusetts has the most towns with tobacco 21 ordinances.

Many national, state and local studies and surveys support raising the age to 21. See section below on studies and surveys for more information.

NEW JERSEY AND TOBACCO 21

I. Local Initiatives

New Jersey is trending as well, with almost a dozen towns passing such ordinances, concentrating in Northern New Jersey where GASP is based (GASP provides educational technical assistance and educational resources to these communities). Call GASP at 908-273-9368 for the most recent update on which New Jersey towns have tobacco 21 ordinances.

stp_new_button On September 9, 2015 the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services (OLS) issued an OLS memo stating that New Jersey municipalities are not preempted from enacting municipal laws that increase CH 221 for selling tobacco and electronic smoking devices.  Senator Richard Codey had requested an analysis from OLS, based on GASP’s input that some towns considering a tobacco 21 law wanted to know if they were preempted by state law from doing so. 

II. State Initiatives

Since 2005, New Jersey state law bans anyone from selling, furnishing or giving tobacco or electronic smoking devices, to a person under age 19. In June 2014, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill to raise the age of sale to 21.

  • Read the June 9, 2014 NJ Spotlight News story on the 21 bill that features GASP.
  • Read the July 9, 2014 Washington Post Editorial that supports the NJ bill to raise the age of sale from 19 to 21; GASP served as a lead technical assistance resource provider to this Editorial.

NJ’s new legislative session started in mid-January, and both the Senate and Assembly are fast-tracking the new tobacco 21 bill by introducing it and having it voted through both the Senate Health Committee on February 4, 2016, and the Assembly Health Committee on February 22, 2016.   Both bills await full Senate and Assembly votes.

 III. 2013 GASP/New York City Collaboration on Tobacco 21

On October 13, 2013, New York City’s City Council banned the sale of tobacco and electronic smoking devices to persons under the age of 21, and then Mayor Bloomberg signed it into law in on November 19, 2013. GASP provided educational technical assistance to the bill’s sponsor Councilman James Gennaro. See below for the history behind the passage of New York City’s law, and media coverage:

On May 16, 2013: Initial joint press conference to announce the New York City and New Jersey bills to raise the age to 21. NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, New Jersey Senator Codey and Assemblyman Ramos organized the event. GASP was invited to present at the press conference.

  • View the Fios1 news report video coverage of the May 16, 2013 press conference, in which the reporter noted that New Jersey is not as worried about collecting less cigarette taxes because raising the age to sell tobacco will save lives.
  • Read the NYC Council’s press release and news clips from the NY Times and Burglington County Times.
  • Read the May 16, 2013 GASP press release.

October 30, 2013: New York City City’s Council voted to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone under age 21. Councilman James Gennaro from Queens, whose mother passed away from lung cancer, sponsored this bill. GASP attended the NYC Council vote on the evening of October 30, 2013.

  • View the 10/30/13 video of the NYC Council vote, and hear Councilman Gennaro’s statement at the 1 hour 7 minute marker of the video with a thank you for GASP’s information.
  • View the MSNBC interview of Councilman Gennaro. Note that the NYC law bans the sale of tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices; the NYC law does not ban the purchase by someone under age 21
  • Read GASP’s press release from October 30, 2013 on this historic bill that raised the age to 21, to sell tobacco and electronic smoking devices in NYC.

New York City Moves Ahead On October 30, 2013, New York City’s City Council voted to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone under age 21. This NYC bill was sponsored by Councilman James Gennaro from Queens whose mother passed away from lung cancer. GASP attended the NYC Council vote on the evening of October 30, 2013.

  • View the 10/30/13 video of the NYC Council vote, and hear Councilman Gennaro’s statement at the 1 hour 7 minute marker of the video with a thank you for GASP’s information.
  • View the MSNBC interview of Councilman Gennaro. Note that the NYC law bans the sale of tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices; the NYC law does not ban the purchase by someone under age 21.
  • Read GASP’s press release from October 30, 2013 on this historic bill that raised the age to 21, to sell tobacco and electronic smoking devices in NYC.

November 19, 2013: New York City Mayor Bloomberg signed into law the bill banning the sale of tobacco and electronic smoking devices to persons under age 21. Read the Long Island Newsday article about the new law. The law takes effect in six months. Bill sponsor Councilman James Gennaro invited GASP to the Mayor’s signing of the bill into law, and included GASP in his press release. GASP provided formal remarks at the bill signing hearing.

  • Read GASP’s press release.
  • Mayor Bloomberg tweeted about the new law, as did the New York Times by quoting Councilman Gennaro.
  • Read an Associated Press news article and view a video of Mayor Bloomberg’s signing from The Christian Monitor.
  • Watch the News 4 New York video of an interview with Councilman Gennaro that aired on November 18, 2013:

IV. Studies and Surveys in Support of Tobacco 21

stp_new_button Recent studies and surveys either recommend or support raising the age of sale to 21 for tobacco and electronic smoking devices. Below are the highlighted studies and surveys, and you can read more by clicking on the hyperlink to our news alert section:

  • June 17, 2015: The Boston Globe reports on a ten-year follow-up study of the impact from Needham, Massachusetts’ tobacco 21 ordinance. See the full study here.
  • June 11, 2015: WMBC-TV interviews GASP on raising tobacco age of sale to 21, found at this link.
  • June 10, 2015: American Medical Association recommends Tobacco 21, reported on from a New Jersey perspective at The Star-Ledger.
  • June 9, 2015: An American Medical Association press release urges a 21 age of sale for e-cigarettes due to the rising popularity of this type of tobacco product.
  • May 16, 2015: A University of Texas study surveying 698 college students found 25% of college smokers are currently using e-cigarettes.
  • April 16, 2015: The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Week Report (MMWR) released the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey results, finding increases in the usage of e-cigarettes and hookah amongst high school and middle school students offsetting the decrease in traditional cigarettes and cigars.
  • April 16, 2015: The New York Times reports that the use of e-cigarettes is rising sharply among teenagers, with 13% of high school students using them – more than the percentage that smoke cigarettes.
  • March 12. 2015: The Institute of Medicine concluded in a report on the public health implications of a raised age of access to tobacco that raising the age of tobacco sales to 21 would result in 4.2 million fewer years of life lost for those born between 2000 and 2019.
  • March 2, 2015: Ohio State University, College of Public Health released a white paper “Running the Numbers” regarding increasing the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Co-Authored by Dr. Robert Crane, this paper can be used by communities and groups interested in increasing the age of sale for tobacco products to 21.

CALIFORNIA AND TOBACCO 21

I. Local Initiatives

Berkeley California recently passed a law that bans anyone from selling tobacco-related products including electronic smoking devices and e-liquid to anyone under the age of 21.

V. Resources on Tobacco 21

Tobacco 21 (Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation) at http://tobacco21.org

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/what_we_do/state_local/sales_21

Tobacco Free Massachusetts at http://tobaccofreemass.net

GASP jurisdictions link on tobacco 21.