A proposal to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21-years-old failed in the Essex County Legislature on Tuesday, somewhat in part due to three supervisors being absent.
As part of the county using a weighted roll-call tally voting system, the three absent members had their votes counted as being against the increase, and while the 1,359 votes in favor were more than the 1,264 votes against, it fell short of the 1,461 votes needed to pass the ordinance. Six of the 18 supervisors voted in favor of it with nine against and three absent, according to a report by PressRepublican.com. The three absent supervisors represented 298 votes.
The increase would have also applied to electronic cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia. Violators would have been subject to a hearing in front of the county’s board of health, which caused one supervisor to vote against it, saying that since the police and courts would not be responsible for enforcement, it lacked any teeth. However, the ordinance did have a provision that would have fined violators between $300 and $1000 for a first violation, while subsequent violations could reach $1,500.
Essex County is located in the northeastern corner of the state and is home to approximately 40,000 residents.