With the deadline to get bills passed looming, the New Jersey Assembly has approved a bill that would increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 19 to 21.
The legislative body approved the proposal by a 49-20 vote with five abstentions on Monday.
The bill now heads to Gov. Chris Christie, who has until Jan. 19 to decide whether he will sign it or veto it. The governor hasn’t given any indication on what his plans are, though he has vetoed other anti-tobacco legislation in the past, saying he believes those decisions should be left unto individual municipalities.
The proposal has been in the works for nearly two years, with the New Jersey Senate approving its version in June 2014. Retailers who sell to underage persons would face fines from $500 to $1,000 should the bill become law.
If Gov. Christie signs the bill, New Jersey will become the second state in the country to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21, joining Hawaii which passed the bill last year and went into effect on Jan. 1.