Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday vetoed legislation that would have banned the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to people under 21.
In his veto message, the Republican governor wrote that raising the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 would “push residents to buy tobacco products from non-licensed vendors or in neighboring states.
“Smoking is detrimental to the health of Illinoisans of all ages,” Rauner wrote. “It is important that we address the issues caused by tobacco use, especially since many people begin using tobacco at a young age. Unfortunately, this legislation will inhibit the choice of consumers while also not helping keep tobacco products out of the hands of youth.”
The American Lung Association quickly responded, saying the governor “failed the children of Illinois.”
Lawmakers could try to override Rauner when they go back to Springfield after the election. But mustering enough votes to do so could be difficult. The proposal cleared the Illinois House in the spring with only one vote to spare.
Along with Chicago, more than 20 other Illinois localities have raised the smoking age to 21 in recent years, according to the Illinois Lung Association.
California, Oregon, Hawaii, New Jersey and Maine, as well as at least 310 U.S. municipalities, also have laws restricting the sale of tobacco products to people under 21.