Illinois will become the eight state to raise the legal age to 21 to buy or use tobacco products after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed new legislation into law Sunday afternoon.
Flanked by lawmakers and public health advocates in Chicago, Pritzker signed the Tobacco 21 bill, which goes into effect July 1. The new law raises the legal age from 18 to purchase or use cigarettes or other tobacco products as well as vaping products.
Pritzker says the measure will keep young residents from picking up the habit at an early age.
“Many are risking a lifetime addiction before being able to make an informed choice,” he said.
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed similar legislation, saying people will just cross state lines to get tobacco products.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a long-time proponent of upping the age to 21. He says restricting access to tobacco saves lives.
“In the last eight years, we’ve seen a fifty percent reduction in teen smoking, the largest drop in the United States of America,” he said.
Senate President John Cullerton joked that lawmakers would soon add another dollar in taxes for a pack of cigarettes.
Illinois joins California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia in raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21.
Opponents say the state shouldn’t be deciding whether an adult should be mature enough to take certain liberties but not others.