Smoking age in Illinois is 21

Local News

ILLINOIS (WEHT) – Starting today, the legal age to smoke and buy tobacco and other nicotine products in Illinois is 21 years old.

The law bans the sale of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and nicotine-based products to anyone under 21.

Illinois is the eighth state, and first in the Midwest to implement the change.

Lawmakers also passed a one dollar per pack cigarette tax increase.

And e-cigarettes will now be taxed at 15%.

The changes in Illinois’s tobacco laws not only affect how old you’ll have to be to buy tobacco products, but also affects how much it will cost.

“Back when I started smoking, anybody could practically go in and get a pack of cigarettes,” says Mike Webb of Albion. He says if there was an age minimum in place when he started, he probably wouldn’t have started smoking.

“I think that might have swayed it, had I wouldn’t have been old enough to do that,” Webb says.

Illinois becomes the first Midwestern state to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21. Owners of Up In Vape in Carmi say they don’t believe the age change will have much of an impact on their sales. Some Illinois residents says it won’t deter many from buying tobacco or nicotine products.

“That don’t bother me much because I don’t smoke, but they’re still going to get their cigarettes one way or another,” says Rhonda McGee of Mt. Carmel.

“We’re close enough to Indiana here, and people can go across the border and buy tobacco legally and then continue to smoke when they’re under 21 here,” adds Seth Rickert of Richland County.

“They’re raising these prices and everything. I guess they want everyone to quit smoking, I guess,” says Webb.

The change happens more than a month after a bill sponsored by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell that raising the federal age to 21 was introduced in the U.S. Senate. That has yet to be voted on by the full Senate.

Illinois became the 8th state in the country to raise their minimum age from 18 to 21 earlier this year when Gov. Pritzker signed that bill.

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This story was originally published on July 1, 2019.

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