New Jersey is cracking down on cigarettes, becoming the latest state to hike up the legal age to buy tobacco products after Gov. Chris Christie signed his approval on Friday.
By restricting people under age 21 from buying cigarettes, the state is "giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place," Christie said in a statement.
He also added a personal anecdote: "My mother died from the effects of smoking, and no one should lose their life due to any addictive substance."
Christie also pointed out that reducing smoking-related health issues will benefit the state's health care system. A 2015 study by the National Institute of Medicine found that raising the minimum age to 21 nationwide would result in nearly 250,000 fewer premature deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019. In other words, it would save much of today's youth from the immense health dangers of tobacco.
New York, Hawaii and California have all raised their smoking ages to 21. A similar bill in Oregon is currently on the table.
New Jersey's new law, which also applies to e-cigarettes, enacts fines against people who provide such products to people under the legal age.
The law goes into effect November 1.