SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Yehiel “Mark” Kalish, D-Skokie, backed legislation raising the legal age for a person in Illinois to buy tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21.
“Increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco will help to prevent our kids from ever using these addictive products and reduce the deaths, disease, and health care costs associated with its use,” said Kalish. “Nicotine is addictive, and adolescents and young adults are more susceptible to its effects on their developing brains. Delaying the age when young people first experiment with or begin using tobacco will reduce the risk that they will become addicted users later in life.”
House Bill 345, more commonly known as ‘Tobacco 21’, was co-sponsored by Kalish and passed with bipartisan support out of the Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday. A similar version of the legislation was passed by the General Assembly in 2018, but was vetoed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner. Under the new gubernatorial administration and General Assembly, there is a renewed effort to both protect kids from proven harms like tobacco and to save public costs on health care treatment with preventative measures like ‘Tobacco 21’ on the front end.
“I want to thank Representative Kalish for putting the health and well-being of young people first,” said Matt Maloney, director of health policy for Respiratory Health Association. “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.”
“Increasing the tobacco age reduces the likelihood that a high school student will be able to legally purchase tobacco products for other students and underage friends,” said Kalish. “We need to do everything we can to prevent young people from smoking and save lives. Increasing the tobacco age to 21 will help achieve these goals.”