Make 21 the Age of Sale for Tobacco Products in Illinois
Fewer young people in Illinois would start smoking under a proposal to raise the minimum age of tobacco sales from 18 to 21. State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) and State Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Oak Park) introduced the legislation in Springfield this week with the support of public health groups and community organizations.
“This bill will not only save lives but will also save the state money paid to treat smoking-related illnesses,” Morrison said. “I feel it is my responsibility and obligation to do what I can to keep tobacco out of the hands of young people. I’m confident this bill will help us achieve that goal.”
Along with the bill’s introduction, the American Lung Association in Illinois unveiled survey results that revealed 65 percent of registered Illinois voters supported “tobacco 21” legislation. Support was consistent across the state, with nearly half of respondents (47 percent) saying they “strongly supported” the proposal. Fako Research and Strategies, Inc., of Lemont, Ill., conducted the survey, which was carried out between January 11-17, 2018.
Why increase the age to purchase tobacco products to 21? “Delay the onset of smoking. 95% of adult smokers began before the age of 21,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. "By raising the age of sale for tobacco to 21, Illinois will reduce youth access. 90% of persons who purchase tobacco for minors are under 21.“
Currently, five states and 290 cities nationwide have “tobacco 21” laws, including these 14 localities in Illinois: Berwyn, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Deerfield, Elk Grove, Evanston, Highland Park, Lake County, Lincolnshire, Maywood, Mundelein, Naperville, Oak Park, Naperville and Vernon Hills. According to the Institute of Medicine, implementing tobacco 21 policies nationwide could reduce youth smoking initiation by as much as 25 percent, decrease overall tobacco use by 12 percent and save millions in health care costs.
“The State of Illinois spends nearly $2 billion dollars every year treating Medicaid recipients with smoking-related diseases,” said Kathy Drea, vice president of advocacy at the American Lung Association in Illinois. “Nonsmokers tend to think that smoking doesn’t affect them, but the costs of smoking affect all of us. The Illinois General Assembly should do everything possible to reduce both youth and adult smoking prevalence rates to reduce health care costs related to tobacco use.”
Witness slips are a vital piece of the legislative process. Before a bill is heard in committee, the chairperson will read who has submitted witness slips and whether they support or oppose the bill. This helps inform the legislators as to where Illinoisans and organizations stand, allowing them to make informed decisions when voting. Witness slips are a great and relatively quick way to make your voice heard in state government.
You can indicate your support for making the age of 21 the legal sales age for tobacco products by submitting a witness slip on these bills.
- SB 2332 is scheduled in the Senate Public Health Committee on Tuesday, February 6th, at 1:00pm in State Capital Room 400. Submit a Witness Slip
- HB 4297 is scheduled in the House Health & Healthcare Disparities Committee on Tuesday, February 6th, at 3:30pm in State Capital Room 115. Submit a Witness Slip
The above links will take you to a blank slip for these specific bills.
- Section I: You will be asked to enter your information; do not name a group or firm unless you are authorized to represent that group or firm.
- Section II: Asks again for representation, fill in “concerned parent”, “myself”, “resident of Illinois”, or cite your knowledge/skills, “Medial Doctor”, “RN”.
- Section III: Asks are you a proponent (yes, I support the bill) or an opponent (no, I’m against the bill).
- Section IV: The most common is “Record of Appearance Only,” which means you would like to register your support or opposition. If you are unable to attend the hearing but would like to submit a written statement, click “Written Statement Filed.” It is your responsibility to get a copy of your written statement to the chairman or chairwoman of that committee.
- Once you have completed the required information, click “Create (Slip)” at the bottom of the page.
- Need more assistance? How to Create a Witness Slip for the ILGA.pdf
Thank you for your assistance & support!