July 22 (UPI) -- Gov. Chris Christie's signature of legislation Friday puts New Jersey on the path toward becoming the third state to make 21 the legal minimum age to smoke.
The bill raises the age required to buy tobacco products from 19 to 21. Hawaii became the first state to raise its smoking age to 21 in 2015 and California did the same in 2016.
Christie said the measure was personal for him, but would also help prevent young people from becoming addicted to tobacco.
"[W]e are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place," Christie said in a statement. "My mother died from the effects of smoking, and no one should lose their life due to any addictive substance. Additionally, the less people who develop costly tobacco habits that can cause health problems, such as lung cancer, heart disease and developmental issues, the less strain there will be on our healthcare system."
The legislation includes traditional tobacco products in addition to e-cigarettes and vapor machines.
A similar initiative is in the works in Oregon, where the state legislature has passed a bill to make the smoking age 21. It still needs Gov. Kate Brown's approval to become law.