SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, voted to keep children safe from the dangers of smoking on Tuesday by passing a bill raising the age to purchase cigarettes and other nicotine products to 21.
“My priority is keeping our children healthy,” Jones said. “As a father, I don’t want my sons exposed to smoking while they’re still teenagers, and other Illinois parents don’t want that for their kids either. We know nicotine is dangerous, especially when a person is still growing up. This bill will stop that danger from affecting our kids until they are mature enough to make their own decisions about smoking.”
Jones voted for House Bill 345, also known as Tobacco 21, to make sure tobacco laws matched the current understanding of the effects of tobacco as well as how smoking culture has changed recently. This bill raises the age to legally purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21, and expands the restriction to include increasingly popular electronic cigarettes and synthetic nicotine substitutes.
The bill also removes legal penalties for minors possessing tobacco products, although it is still a misdemeanor to use a fake ID to avoid age laws and purchase restricted nicotine substances.
Matt Maloney, director of health policy for Respiratory Health Association, praised Jones’s vote.
“I want to thank Rep. Jones for putting the health and well-being of young people first,” Maloney said. “There are seven states that have Tobacco 21 laws in place, and Illinois is one step closer to becoming the eighth. It is my hope that the Illinois Senate will also pass this measure with vast bipartisan support.”
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