‘Tobacco 21’ approved by Senate, bill sent to Pritzker’s desk

By Cole Lauterbach
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers have approved legislation that would raise the legal age to buy and use tobacco products in Illinois to 21.

The measure would also raise the age for buying and using e-cigarettes and other liquid nicotine products.

It passed the House earlier this week and got Senate approval Thursday. The sponsor can now send the legislation to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk when they please.

“Nine out of ten people who are smoking now started before the age of 18. We also know that 18,000 Illinoisans die every year from smoking-related illnesses,” said sponsor Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield.

Opponents said that the state shouldn’t be deciding whether or not an adult should be mature enough to take certain liberties but not others.

“I believe that if you are wise enough to determine who should be in the legislature, who to vote for as governor, who to vote for as president, you are also wise enough to determine, especially with all of the information that’s out there today about the dangers of smoking, about whether or not to be to choose to smoke,” said Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Hills.

The state pays an estimated $2 billion annually in Medicaid bills related to smoking.

The bill would also remove criminal penalties for someone under 21 possessing tobacco or vaping products.

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