Sen. Codey Says NJ Could Become First State to Increase Smoking Age

The age to legally smoke in New Jersey may be changing. The state can become the first in the nation to increase the smoking age to 21 if legislation is ultimately approved. State lawmakers in the Senate have already passed the bill. Sen. Richard Codey told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that statics show that people become addicted to smoking before the age of 21.

“Stats show that the people who become addicted to cigarette smoking, 95 percent of them do it before the age of 21,” said Codey. “And in this country 700 young adults, teenagers adopt the habit every day and half a million people in our country every year die directly because of tobacco products.”

Some question the effectiveness of such a law because underage individuals may have fake IDs they could use to purchase tobacco as they do with alcohol. Codey said he supports the measure because young adults will be more mature and able to handle smoking at 21, as they are with alcohol.

Codey says that there is action around the country to increase the smoking age. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg raised the smoking age to 21 and also increased the cost of tobacco. Other cities, towns and counties have also increased their smoking age, according to Codey.

Along with raising the smoking age, Codey wants to see steroid testing permanent on student athletes in New Jersey. During his time as governor, as an executive order, athletes who were playing in championship games were tested. According to Codey, steroid use is horrible for young adults’ health and its use would also count as cheating in sports.

As for restricting steroid use in the state, Codey says that if an athlete is playing for a championship there will be random testing and if a athlete is caught, that athlete will not play and be suspended for the next year.

As for what is next on the state legislature’s agenda, Codey says that there is plenty to work on, but currently the most pressing issue would be allowing gambling in other areas outside of Atlantic City.

“We lose hundreds of millions of dollars every year because we don’t have casinos or slot machines up north,” Codey said.