There’s been a lot of back and forth in the state of Illinois in respect of a bill that would raise the smoking age. Over the past several years there has been an increase in Tobacco 21 bills within state and local communities. These bills take on tobacco and smoking by raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years.
In the state of Illinois, legislators introduced their own version of a Tobacco 21 bill known as S.B. 2332. The bill was introduced by Rep. Camille Lilly (D.-Chicago). Riding the wave of other Tobacco 21 bills that have been introduced nationwide, S.B. 2332 set out to raise the legal age to purchase and consume tobacco products from 18 to 21. Illinois has seen other Tobacco 21 bills pop up including one in Evanston in 2014, one in the city of Chicago back in 2016, and one in Lake County in 2017.
The rise of Tobacco 21 bills like S.B. 2332 imply that there’s a need for such bills and that there’s an epidemic-level rise in underage smoking requiring governmental intervention. In Illinois, however, the trend is that cigarette smoking is becoming less popular overall. According to the United Health Foundation (UHF), Illinois has the second-lowest rate of adult cigarette consumption in all of the Midwest as of 2017. This can even be seen in the state’s cigarette tax revenue, which has continually declined and fallen short of projections over the past few years.
Despite this fact and the available data, the Illinois House of Representatives voted by a 61-49 margin to pass the bill. Now it’s awaiting the governor’s signature and if it becomes a law it would impact far more than just cigarettes. The bill would also prohibited anyone under 21 from purchasing or consuming a variety of tobacco products including cigars, e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other alternative nicotine products. The state’s senate added an amendment that makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone under 21 years of age to use false or forged documents to purchase or obtain tobacco products.
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