Gov. Pritzker likely to sign bill changing tobacco age to 21

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In just a few months, the legal age to buy tobacco in Illinois could change to 21. That is if Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the bill into law.

People say once you start, it’s hard to quit smoking.

“My mom smoked and I wish I had taught myself not to,” said Staci Turnbaugh.

Staci Turnbaugh said she has quit smoking because of a recent COPD diagnosis. She says she’s glad the state is raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21

“If they switch it here in Illinois to 21, Missouri is going to keep it at 18 and they’re going to go across the bridge to get them,” she said.

Even with Missouri being just a short drive away, Doctors at SIU Center for Family Medicine say changing the legal age in Illinois can help.

“I think the more we educate the better it’s going to be. We know smoking rates have dropped because we have had a concerted effort with education for a long long time,” said Dr. Shawn Holcomb.

Dr. Holcomb says most teens start smoking in response to peer pressure. She says this law could cut down the number of people that start smoking in their teens.

“It does make it a little easier to fight the problem if we have a little older group of people able to buy tobacco,” said Holcomb.

And some former smokers say they hope all states raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21.

“This is not the best thing for anyone to start. It’s one thing that you don’t want to start. It’s like alcohol, you can drink on occasion but once you start you can’t stop for some people. Some people can but some people can’t,” said Turnbaugh.

If signed the law goes into effect July 1st. Gov. Pritzker could sign the bill as soon as next week.


FDA: Youth and Tobacco

NIH: Smoking and Youth

House Bill: 0345



CDC Tabacco 21 Fact Sheet

Brett Knese

Brett Knese

Multi-Media Journalist at WGEM News.

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