smokerSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) joined with Senate colleagues this afternoon in supporting a plan to raise the age to legally purchase tobacco in Illinois to 21.

“With the rise in e-cigarette use among teenagers, it is past time we act to reduce tobacco use among our young population,” Link said. “Since most current adult smokers started in their teens, raising the age will curb the next generation of adult smokers and save lives.”

House Bill 345 would make Illinois the eighth state to pass Tobacco 21 legislation. In Illinois, more than 30 localities have already raised the age, including Lincolnshire, Vernon Hills, Buffalo Grove and Mundelein.

A key benefit to raising the age is documented decreases in the number of high schoolers who smoke. In Chicago, authorities recorded a drop from 13.6 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2017. Raising the age was cited as a key component of the decrease.

Link has been a longtime champion of stricter tobacco laws, passing the Smoke Free Illinois Act in 2007, which banned smoking in most public places in Illinois. Since Smoke Free Illinois, there has been a marked decrease in hospitalization due to various smoking-related diseases. But with the advent of e-cigarettes, tobacco use among teenagers is on the rise for the first time in years.

“Smoke Free Illinois was a major step forward in improving the health of our residents and making Illinois a better place to live,” Link said. “Tobacco 21 builds on those efforts and moves us one step closer to a healthier, smoke-free Illinois.”

House Bill 345 passed the Senate this afternoon and now heads to the governor for his approval.

Below: Senator Link joins his colleagues earlier this year at a press conference advocating for the passage of Tobacco 21.

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