Legislation to increase Illinois’ smoking age from 18 to 21 has recently been introduced to the state Senate.
Senate Bill 3011, sponsored by Sen. John Mulroe of Chicago, looks to limit the number of young smokers and, in effect, save the state on spending for the treatment of smoking-related illnesses. Aside from tobacco, the bill also applies to electronic cigarettes.
“I don’t think anyone would dispute that cigarettes are bad for you,” Mulroe told Ward Room.
“We’re not getting rid of cigarettes, but let’s try to prevent people from starting smoking,” Mulroe added.
Mulroe noted that $2 billion in state Medicaid is spent annually to treat smoking-related illnesses and that the measure could help to decrease these costs.
Chicago’s City Council passed a similar ordinance last week. That legislation increased the city’s smoking age from 18 to 21, outlawed discounts and added a $6 million tax on tobacco products.
The measure also banned chewing tobacco at city ballparks, much to the chagrin of Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon.
As of March, nine states and 131 cities have passed legislation to raise the smoking age to 21.
SB 3011 is assigned to the Senate’s Public Health Committee. Mulroe is chairman of the committee.