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Pritzker signs bill raising tobacco purchasing age to 21

CHICAGO- Young adults in Illinois will have to wait a few more years to buy their cigarettes.

On April 7 Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Former governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a similar bill back in August of 2018, saying raising the minimum age would push people to purchase tobacco products from unlicensed vendors or from neighboring states.

Advocates for the bill include public health officials, who say people are less likely to become smokers if they can't start smoking until 21. According to the Respiratory Health Association, 95% of smokers start before the age of 21. While the majority of underage tobacco users get their smokes from a peer, 90% of the suppliers are also under 21. Advocates believe raising the purchasing age to 21 could get legal tobacco out of high school circles.

Additionally, some economists predict raising the tobacco purchasing age could save $212 billion nationally in medical costs.

Six states – California, Hawaii, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey – have raised the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21, according to the American Lung Association.

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