An attempt to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco failed in the Illinois Senate last week.
Legislature promoted by Democratic Senator John Mulroe of Chicago would have prohibited the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 21; however, Thursday’s vote shut down the proposal 23-25.
Supporters of the bill argued that it would prevent young people from getting hooked, but opponents insisted that 18-year-olds, eligible to join the military, should be able to make their own choices regarding tobacco.
This proposal comes in the wake of California’s new laws, which are tightening the restrictions on tobacco sales in the state. Just last Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that has raised the age of tobacco purchases from 18 to 21, making California the second state in the U.S. to pass this law.
“What this means for California is now we can know that our youth are less likely to be addicted to this horrible drug of tobacco,” commented Senator Ed Hernandez, the lead author of the bill. “There’s going to be less addiction to tobacco, [and] we’re going to reduce health care costs and save lives.” The state senator, a Democrat from West Covina, says he’s “ecstatic.”
The law will go into effect starting June 9 and will apply to all 18- to 20 year-olds except military personnel, who will still be able to purchase tobacco. This compromise addresses the concerns brought up by opponents of the bill who argue that if a person is old enough to fight for his or her country, that person should be allowed to purchase tobacco.
A recent report concluded that if all 50 states were to follow suit, raising the legal tobacco age to 21, there would be a 12% drop in the number of young smokers. Advocates of the change hope to improve the overall health of the American people. Smoking is known to cause an assortment of health problems, including heart disease and lung cancer, and can double the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which leads to irreversible vision loss.