Wednesday night, the town council of Teaneck, N.J. voted to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, a change that will take effect in a few weeks barring any legal challenges.
New Jersey state law currently sets the minimum age to purchase tobacco products at 19, but Mayor Lizette Parker told NorthJersey.com that the change reflects the responsibility felt among officials to promote healthy lifestyles for young residents.
The seven member council voted 5-1 in favor of the change with one member absent. Deputy Mayor Elie Katz opposed the measure saying it would hurt businesses already struggling in the township.
Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association, said that “what they did in Teaneck is feel good, do nothing, silly legislation; they didn’t even have the guts to make it illegal to buy tobacco. They only penalize the people who are selling it and that’s wrong.”
Teaneck becomes the third municipality in the state to make the increase, joining Englewood and Sayreville, both of which passed similar measures earlier this year. There is still active legislation in the New Jersey Legislature to make the increase from 19 to 21.
The township is home to just over 40,000 residents and is situated about 18 miles northeast of Newark.