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.

Avatar photo

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.