SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Committees from both the Illinois Senate and the House of Representatives endorsed proposals that would raise the legal age of purchase for tobacco products from the current age of 18 years old to 21.
On Feb. 6, the Senate Public Health Committee voted 6-2 in favor of the change; in a separate action on an identical bill, a House committee backed the measure by 3-1, according to the Chicago Tribune. The measures now move for discussion on their respective floors.
While those in favor of the action laud its effort to reduce smoking among youth, opponents complained the plan would hurt small businesses, including convenience stores, which could be fined $200 for a first offense, the Tribune reported. Opponents also argued that the legislation sends the wrong message. While consumers younger than 21 buying tobacco would be barred, underage possession would not be penalized.
Meanwhile, the effort to raise the legal age of tobacco purchase to 21 also saw activity in Connecticut and Minnesota:
- In Connecticut, the Hartford, Conn.-based Mobilize Against Tobacco for Connecticut’s Health (MATCH) launched an educational campaign to raise the tobacco sale age to 21. The effort began Jan. 22 with mobilization of community groups, as well as youth ambassadors, to host events where they will educate community members on the effects of tobacco on youth, MATCH organizers said in a press release.
- In Mankato, Minn., the city council rejected a measure that would raise the tobacco purchase age to 21, according to KEYC News 21, the ABC and Fox affiliate in Mankato. The measure failed Feb. 12 on a 4-3 vote. It puts a similar measure by North Mankato, Minn., in jeopardy, because that ordinance change would go into effect only if Mankato followed suit, the news organization reported.