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Cigarette in Atlantic City, N.J.

New Jersey raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21

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The legal age for purchasing cigarette and tobacco products at businesses in New Jersey is 21 years old starting Wednesday, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

The Press on Wednesday reported that those younger than 21 will no longer be able to buy cigarettes, cigarette paper, chewing tobacco, cigars and electronic smoking devices.

Businesses, people or retailers who sell such products to people beneath that age threshold will face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 per violation.

New Jersey is raising the minimum age for tobacco products in an attempt at decreasing smoking rates among teenagers and young adults.

RELATED: A company gave non-smokers six extra days off to make up for co-workers' smoke breaks

The new measure also aims at eliminating short-and long-term health effects and costs related to tobacco use.

“By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, we are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and a better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) said after he signed the bill about the law in July.

The Press reported that smoking tobacco remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.

The American Lung Association found that 11,780 New Jersey residents died from smoking-related health issues from 2005 to 2009.

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The organization’s most recent report also discovered that taxpayers absorb $4 billion in tobacco-related health expenses in New Jersey annually.

The association additionally reported that roughly 14.8 percent of adults in New Jersey use tobacco, while 8.2 percent of its high school students smoke.

Rates of cigarette smoking among teens and young adults, however, have steadily declined in New Jersey for the last five years.

The majority of that total comes from tobacco-related diseases and illnesses including cancer, heart disease, breathing issues and more.

New Jersey followed California and Hawaii in raising their legal smoking age to 21, and Maine and Oregon have since passed legislation doing the same for their age thresholds.

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