CHICAGO - At 18 years old, you can vote, drive a car and go to war, but soon you may not be able to purchase tobacco and nicotine products in Illinois until you are 21.
“The local communities are behind us, law enforcement is with us, the general public wants to see ‘Tobacco 21’ and now it's our time to take action,” said State Senator Julie Morrison.
Tuesday, a Senate committee voted in favor to advance the Senate bill: “Tobacco 21". That would raise the legal sales age from 18 to 21 for all tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.
The bill will now go to the full State Senate, then the House where it's expected to pass. Governor J.B. Pritzker has said he will sign it.
A similar bill was sent to former Governor Bruce Rauner's desk last year, but he vetoed it. Several Chicago suburbs like Aurora, Elgin and Evanston have already passed similar laws, as did Chicago three years ago.
“Those young folks, middle school kids, and highs school kids are less likely to access it because their peers, who are most likely 18-20, rather than 21 and older, those folks just can’t get access to the tobacco products,” said Dr. Julie Morita, Chicago Health Department Commissioner.
Illinois lawmakers are talking about upping the age to 21, but in Hawaii, a House bill wants to raise the smoking age to 30 in the year 2020, and to 100 years old in 2024.