Illinois raises minimum smoking age to 21

Derek Swanson, News Editor

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill on April 7 that raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21 across the state. The bill will go into effect on July 1 as Illinois joins the seven other states that have implemented the same policy. 

Along with raising the buying age, the bill also removes penalties for underage tobacco use. Businesses that sell to underage consumers will still face harsh fines and penalties. A previous version of the bill was vetoed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner, even though the bill had wide bi-partisan support. 

“For Illinois, it will reduce costs for our state, it will make our schools and communities healthier places to learn and live, and most importantly, it will save lives,” said Pritzker after signing the bill.  

Chicago was the first Illinois city to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco back in 2016. The implementation of the new policy is mostly targeted at young people using e-cigarettes, namely Juuls, and becoming addicted to nicotine without ever using cigarettes. Chicago saw a 36 percent drop in tobacco product use after implementing the policy. 

Illinois joins California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia as the states that have raised the minimum age.