SPRINGFIELD – Legislation that would increase the age to legally purchase tobacco products in Illinois to 21 is in the House this week after recent passage in the Senate.
“We know that adults rarely pick up a cigarette for the first time, making it so important to reduce access to tobacco for teenagers,” said bill sponsor state Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield. “The more we can limit the availability of tobacco for teens, the lower the chance they have of developing a lifetime addiction that disproportionally affects the adolescent brain and costs state government billions of dollars annually.”
Senate Bill 2332 would make Illinois the sixth state to raise the age to buy tobacco to 21. More than 300 towns across the country have also raised the age, including 24 municipalities in Illinois. Chicago, Highland Park, Buffalo Grove, Evanston and Peoria are a few of the cities in Illinois, both small and large, to raise the age.
“In addition to dramatically increasing public health protections, over time, this proposed legislation would save millions of dollars in health care costs in the state of Illinois,” said Kathy Drea, vice president of advocacy for the Lung Association. “We strongly encourage the Illinois House of Representatives to follow suit and support this legislation, which is proven to protect the most vulnerable members of our population, our children.”
Raising the age to purchase tobacco has been proven to reduce the number of high schoolers who smoke. In Chicago, authorities recorded a drop from 13.6 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2017. Raising the age was cited as a key component of the decrease.