The Maplewood Township Committee voted unanimously to ban the sale of tobacco and tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. Previously, anyone 19 and older could legally purchase tobacco in the town.
The ordinance was passed 5-0 at the TC’s regular meeting last Wednesday, and it bans cigarettes and e-cigarettes as well as any other tobacco-related products. Anyone who violates the law by selling to those under 21 faces a fine of $250 for a first violation, $500 for a second and $1,000 for a third. In addition, a business might face a three-day suspension of its license.
See a copy of the ordinance below.
Although some Township Committee members had previously expressed concerns about infringing on “personal liberty,” all had since become convinced the ban was the right move.
Committeeman Greg Lembrich said he had changed his mind, in part after reviewing “the abundance of scientific evidence about the health costs of teenage smoking.” Lembrich also said the ordinance might prevent cigarettes from falling into the hands of younger teens who could get them from their 19- and 20-year-old friends.
“I think Maplewood is a leader in many ways and I’m going to be proud to cast a vote,” Lembrich said. “I hope other New Jersey communities will follow our lead.”
Mayor Vic DeLuca said he had initially raised the issue because Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed a statewide law to prohibit the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products to those ages 19 and 20 in January.
“…our governor failed in his responsibility” to protect young people, said DeLuca.
He did say at least one convenience store owner told him he was concerned about losing business to other towns. Nevertheless, DeLuca said he believed this was a “leadership opportunity” for the town. “We’ve heard all the sides, it’s time we take action and support this.”
“I think it’s an excellent step in protecting our youth,” said Committee member India Larrier. “Let’s be the leader.”