Legal Smoking Age Changes if Governor Signs New Bill

By Dave Dahl

Just two days after the Illinois House passed Tobacco 21, the Senate did the same and sent the bill to Gov. JB Pritzker.

While former Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, a Pritzker spokeswoman said the governor wants to keep tobacco away from young people and looks forward to reviewing the bill.

Sales of tobacco and vaping products would be limited to people 21 and over. This is already the law in Chicago and other cities.

State Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) said the bill is arbitrary.

“There are only two areas where we draw the line at 21: alcohol, because it is a federal requirement that came down from the federal government; and firearms, because – again – that was a federal requirement that was passed down.

“Tobacco should be 21 as well,” said the sponsor, State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield). “It kills as well.”

Other opponents argued the bill carries no penalty for people under 21 who smoke, but proponents said the bill is for public health, not criminal justice.

HB 345 has passed the Senate, 39-16-1, and awaits the governor’s action.

Dave Dahl can be reached at news@wjbc.com