Just a few weeks after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used a pocket veto to defeat a bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the state from 19 to 21-years-old, a pair of bills have been introduced into the New Jersey legislature that are seeking the same increase once again.

S359, sponsored by Sens. Richard J. Codey, D-27; Joseph F. Vitale, D-19; and Shirley K. Turner, D-15, cleared its first hurdle in the legislative process as the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved it 5-3 with one abstention on Thursday. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The Assembly version, A2320, was co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-37 and Assemblyman Herb Conway, Jr., D-7. It has been referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

The bills presented in the previous session of the New Jersey Legislature passed the Senate by a 22-10 vote with eight non-voting members in June 2014, and then cleared the Assembly in Jan. 2016 by a 48-21 vote with five not voting and five abstaining.

Also returning to the legislature floor is a ban on smoking at all New Jersey public parks and beaches. An identical proposal passed the legislature in 2014 but which Gov. Christie also vetoed, saying that “while I appreciate the sponsors’ concerns regarding the health risks posed by smoking and second-hand smoke, I am not persuaded that a presecriptive, one-size-fits-all State ban on smoking at public parks and beaches is advisable at this time.”

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee.

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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.