Illinois Raises Smoking Age

On April 8, Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker signed House Bill 345 into law. This law raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. These products include “electronic cigarettes, or alternative nicotine products” such as chewing tobacco. This ban does not impose consequences on anyone caught smoking below the age of twenty-one but does impose consequences on vendors and adults who provide these products. This sales ban will begin being enforced starting on July 1.

A similar sales ban was proposed during the Rauner administration but was ultimately vetoed. The current bill received 39 votes out of 55. With the signing of this bill, Illinois has become the eighth state to pass a statewide sales ban on individuals under 21.

Prior to this signing, multiple municipalities had passed a similar sales ban. State Senators in support of this bill noted that many smaller municipalities lacked the home authority to enact this measure. State Senator Laura Fine claimed during floor debate that this bill would serve“ to get rid of confusion” by eliminating the need for this patchwork of local laws.

Multiple health organizations, such as the Respiratory Health Association, hope that this sales ban will cut back on teen nicotine consumption. Recent studies by the CDC show that nine in ten smokers start before age eighteen and most receive these products from their peers. These studies also found that the ninety percent of these suppliers were under the age of 21.

Experts estimate that, by removing these products from teen social circles, Illinois could see a twelve percent reduction in smoking over the next few years. If you are currently a smoker and are looking to quit, the Illinois Quit Line offers free services and advice through their website.