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Advocates, Illinois Senate President vow to try again with Tobacco 21 law

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SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) – Supporters of the idea to raise the age to buy a pack of cigarettes or tin of chewing tobacco to 21 are vowing to try again next year.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says Illinois will get a Tobacco 21 law. But it may have to wait until next year, or the next governor.

“This will become law,” Cullerton told reporters at the statehouse Tuesday. “The only question is when, and how many lives will we lose because we didn’t pass it right away.”

Cullerton said that Gov. Bruce Rauner was wrong to veto the plan to raise the age to buy tobacco products in the state.

“The real effect of this bill is to stop an 18 year old from buying cigarettes so that he or she can give them to the 14 or 15 year olds,” Cullerton said.”

The governor said that a Tobacco 21 law would burden smokers, and could drive people out of state.

“Raising the age people can purchase tobacco products will push residents to buy tobacco products from non-licensed vendors or in neighboring states,” the governor wrote in his veto message.

Kathy Drea with the American Lung Association in Illinois said that almost 30 cities in Illinois, including Chicago, already have Tobacco 21 laws of their own.

But, she said that not many of those cities are in central and southern Illinois, where more people smoke.

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