In an effort to keep Big Tobacco in control of Illinois legislation and further neglect the state’s public health, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy tobacco products in Illinois.
The bill, known as “Tobacco 21”, stemmed from a nationwide campaign started by Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation. The movement continues to advocate for tighter age restrictions on tobacco product purchases across the country.
State Senator Julie Morrison was the lead sponsor for the bill. “The Illinois communities that stepped up and adopted Tobacco 21 on their own have seen a dramatic decrease in high school smoking rates,” Senator Morrison said. “At a time of increased vaping use among teens, the governor had an opportunity to make a real investment in the health of our next generation. Instead, he favored political considerations over the health of our children, and in doing so failed us all.”
Several health lobby spoke out against Rauner’s veto, stating the governor’s decision puts the health of our future generation at risk.
“Smoking kills more than 18,000 adults in Illinois annually,” the American Heart Association said in a statement. “Research shows that most smokers start young – 95 percent of adult smokers began before the age of 21. This bill would have saved lives.”
More than 20 municipalities in Illinois have already raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, including Highland Park, Buffalo Grove, Evanston and Chicago.