Governor Pritzker signs a bill raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21 during a ceremony in Chicago on Sunday.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill banning the sale of tobacco products to those under 21. He called the legislation life-saving.
With Pritzker’s action, beginning on July 1 retailers are banned from selling cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and nicotine-based products such as e-cigarettes and vaping materials to minors.
The legislation also does away with penalties for underage possession. Businesses, however, will still face fines and other sanctions for selling to underage customers.
The Governor noted a 38-percent increase in use of tobacco products by teens between 2016 and 2018 largely as a result of e-cigarettes.
“There were 1.5 million more young people using E-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2016. 1.5 million. We are dealing with an old problem, in a new form. And while all of our residents have a right to make that choice for themselves, we need to be realistic about what that choice means for our young people. Many are risking a lifetime of addiction before being able to make an informed choice. More than 80% of adult smokers smoked their first cigarette before the age of 18.”
Health organizations and other supporters say the law will discourage teenagers from a deadly, lifelong habit. The legislation’s opponents contended if 18-year-olds can vote and serve in the military, they should be able to decide whether to smoke.
California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii, Maine and Washington, D.C. already have raised the age of purchasing tobacco to 21.