SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Continuing her fight to protect the health of teenagers, state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, is supporting legislation to increase the age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.
“Young people aggressively targeted by big tobacco and then left to deal with a lifetime of health consequences alone, and nowhere is this felt more than in communities of color,” said Harper. “Teenage smoking is a blight for young adults who should be focused on doing well in school and participating in extracurricular activities, and so we need every available resource to help prevent them from developing an early addiction to cigarettes.”
Harper is sponsoring House Bill 345, which would increase the legal age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. According to tobacco21.org, statistics show that a smoking addiction usually occurs before the age 21 and that an early exposure to cigarettes, nicotine, and other tobacco products can lead to increased anxiety, substance abuse issues and even depression. Harper’s goal is to fight for more resources for local teenagers to help them engage their community and to stop harmful tobacco products from reaching their hands.
“Teenagers and young adults are going through a critical development stage at this point in their lives, and so the effects of addition can last a lifetime,” said Harper. “I want to make sure that the things that our children are exposed to are positive and constructive activities that will help them develop into the leaders of tomorrow.”
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