SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In a move prioritizing children’s health, state Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, recently voted to raise the age to legally buy cigarettes and other nicotine products to 21.
“Parents across Illinois agree: our children’s health should always be our first concern,” said Connor. “Nicotine can cause major harm, especially at a young age. Teenagers should not be making decisions which could directly lead to lung cancer. The bill prevents that.”
Connor 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 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 Connor’s vote.
“I want to thank Representative Connor 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.”