HB 345 takes effect July 1. It aims to reduce tobacco use among teens and young adults by preventing them from starting, said Pritzker and state lawmakers who attended Sunday’s bill signing.
Teen smoking rates have declined over the years, but advocates warn that the popularity of e-cigarettes threatens to reverse the progress.
Some tobacco and e-cigarette companies have signaled support for Tobacco 21 policies.
In a statement, Ken Burns pledged the e-cigarette maker’s support for similar legislation in other states, saying the policies reduce sharing by legal-age peers, a major contributor to youth tobacco use.
“We urge lawmakers in states without these age protections to follow their example, and when and if they do, we will proudly support their efforts.”
Other places where you have to be 21 to purchase tobacco
States where the legal age is already 21 include Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine and Massachusetts. Laws will take effect later this year in Arkansas and Virginia.
“We’re dealing with an old problem in a new form,” Pritzker said. “And while all our residents have the right to make this choice for themselves, we need to be realistic about what that choice means for our young people.”
Pritzker dismissed concerns that the legislation would hurt businesses by depriving them of revenue.
He called on neighboring states to pass similar laws to discourage people from crossing state lines. The new law does not include penalties for underage possession, but businesses face fines and sanctions for selling to consumers under 21.
The report found that increasing the age reduces tobacco initiation among 15- to 17-year-olds, leading to reductions in smoking prevalence.
Representative Camille Y. Lilly, who sponsored the Illinois legislation, said it will reduce sharing among underage teens who get tobacco from older friends.
“It takes health care to make America better,” she said. “This piece of legislation brings us forward.”