IL Becomes “Tobacco 21” State: Must be 21 Years Old to Purchase Tobacco Products Starting July 1, 2019

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Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to raise the buying age of nicotine products to 21 after Gov. JB Pritzker signed landmark legislation this past Sunday, April 7.

“I voted against this legislation because I feel that if we can trust 18 year olds to serve in the military and enter into legal contracts, that they are old enough to decide if they want to chew tobacco or smoke a legal product,” commented Rep. Darren Bailey.

The new law will apply not only to traditional products such as cigarettes and loose tobacco, but also to nicotine delivery supplies, equipment, and devices such as Juul.  Starting on July 1, 2019, customers will have to present age-21 identification to purchase these products in Illinois.  An age-21 ordinance is already in effect in the city of Chicago, and House Bill 345 extends this ban to cover stores throughout Illinois.

The passage of ‘Tobacco 21’ created extensive discussion in the Illinois House.  Proponents pointed to sharply rising “vape” rates among Illinois young people, including young teenagers who may be getting access to nicotine from older friends.  Raising the tobacco age to 21 will reunite the age-of-purchase law for tobacco, nicotine, and alcohol.  Purchasers will have to show the same identification whenever they want to buy any of these products.

Illinois is not alone in raising the tobacco-and-nicotine age to 21.  Seven states and the District of Columbia have already done this, and on June 1, 2019, Illinois and Virginia will become the eighth and ninth.  The Illinois House debated the ‘Tobacco 21’ bill in March and passed it by a vote of 82-31-0.