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Princeton Board of Health to vote on tobacco ban for people under 21

The Princeton Board of Health will vote on an ordinance next week to ban the sale of tobacco and electronic cigarettes to people under the age of 21.

The Board made the recommendation last month by approving the introduction of the ordinance. The vote will take place following a public hearing.


The move followed a report from the Institute of Medicine earlier this year finding that raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products would reduce youth smoking by 12 percent.

Members of the Princeton Board of Health and town council either did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.

However, in a Feb. 19 Daily Princetonian article, health board member Charles Rojer told the 'Prince' the rationale for the ordinance would be to reduce youth smoking.

If the ordinance passes, Princeton will become the fourth town in New Jersey to have this kind of restriction on tobacco purchasing, along with Englewood, Sayreville and Teaneck.

New Jersey raised the minimum age for buying cigars, cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 19 in 2006, making it one of five states to do so. In June 2014, lawmakers in the state legislature introduced legislation to raise the tobacco buying age to 21. The measure passed the state senate by a vote of 23-10 and is pending in the assembly.

Students at the University, many of whom are under the age of 21, would make up a significant proportion of the people who fall under the purview of the ordinance.

Students interviewed said they wondered whether raising the age to 21 would really help to reduce the rate at which young people choose to smoke.

Luke Hamel '16 said that while he doesn't smoke and he is 21, his younger friends who smoke would likely resent the ordinance.

"They'll be mad," Hamel said. "They have the feeling like 'Old enough to fight, old enough to smoke.' It seems silly that if you can choose to vote, you can't choose to buy cigarettes."


Hamel added he didn't know if the enforcement of the ordinance would have much of an effect.

Ciara Corbeil '17 said she doesn't smoke herself and doesn't think this ordinance will affect her very much.

"It might affect me in that less people around me might smoke which will be nice because I don't like the smell of smoke," Corbeil said. "I'm not sure that it would really change that much."

Corbeil said she wondered if there are other ways to more effectively keep young people from smoking, such as stronger laws about where people can smoke, taxing the sales of tobacco products and educating people about the effects of using tobacco products.

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"Young people will probably still get their hands on electronic cigarettes and tobacco unless some other fundamental factor is changed," Corbeil noted.

Naman Jain '17 said he thought enforcement probably would not be effective and that the ordinance wouldprobably stop students who wanted tobacco products from gaining access to them.

"If I really want a cigarette, I'll just ask someone else to buy it for me," Jain said. "This affects mostly University kids. How many of them smoke anyways? All it is is an inconvenience."

Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article misstated which body will vote on the final adoption of the smoking ordinance. The Princeton Board of Health will vote on the ordinance after a public hearing on April 21. The 'Prince' regrets the error.