CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 as Gov. JB Pritzker signed the statewide “Tobacco 21” bill into law Sunday.
HB 345, which covers tobacco and vaping products, will go into effect July 1, according to a release from the governor’s office, making Illinois the eighth state in the country to implement the legislation.
“For Illinois, it will reduce costs for our state, it will make our schools and communities healthier places to learn and live, and – most importantly – it will save lives,” Pritzker said.
“Often, we only think of the 18, 19 and 20-year olds being affected by this law, but actually the target age group is the 14-17-year olds. One of the points of this legislation is to remove the 18-year-old supplier from the high schools,” said Rep. Camille Lilly.
Ninety-five percent of smokers start before the age of 21, and in Illinois 5,700 teens become new daily smokers each year, according to a Cook County Health press release.
The City of Chicago raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 in 2016, becoming one of the first municipalities to tax e-cigarettes, ban tobacco discounts and require that clerks who ring up tobacco sales be at least 21-years-old. A similar Cook County law was set to go into effect in unincorporated areas June 1.
“As a result of the city’s robust policy agenda and enforcement actions, teen smoking in Chicago has reached a record low of six percent, dropping by more than half over the last six years,” Emanuel’s office stated in a press release.
In February, Emanuel also announced the city’s decision to file a lawsuit against 27 online sellers of e-cigarettes and vaping liquids for selling the products to minors.