Englewood raises age for cigarette buyers

Craig D. Frazier | 8/14/2014, 5:43 p.m.

Englewood, N.J., became the first town in the state to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21. The ordinance covers cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes. Meanwhile, a bill is making its way through the state Legislature that would ban the sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices to anyone under 21. 

“The longer they can keep kids away from the products, the better off for everybody,” said City Council President Lynne Algrant. However, small business owners in Englewood say they will lose customers to their competitors in neighboring towns.

“It is the right of every adult consumer to decide which products to indulge in and which to abstain from,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association. “This ordinance removes that freedom of choice from legal adults, who are old enough to sign a contract, get married or go to war, yet are apparently incapable of deciding whether to use tobacco products.”

Sen. Richard Cody, a Democrat and former acting governor, sponsored the measure last year. “I think we have to send a message to our young adults,” he said.

The Senate approved the bill in June. It has yet to be voted on in the Assembly. The minimum age to buy tobacco products is 18 in all but three states. In addition to New Jersey, Alabama, Alaska, Utah and the District of Columbia require buyers to be 19.