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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Illinois. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Illinois elected officials:

  1. Increase the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21;
  2. Maintain statewide funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts; and
  3. Continue to pass smokefree air policies/laws in all workplaces, medical facilities, college campuses, multi-unit housing, parks, playgrounds, festivals, fairs, and other outdoor facilities.
During the 2018 state legislative session the main priority of the American Lung Association in Illinois was to pass a bill to increase the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products from 18 to 21. Even though there was strong opposition from all of the tobacco companies, e-cigarette companies, the Illinois Association of Wholesale Distributors, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, the Illinois Manufacturer's Association, the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois, the bill passed the Illinois Senate on April 25, 2018 with 35 Yes votes and 20 No votes.

When called for an initial vote in the Illinois House of Representatives on May 29, 2018 it did not receive a majority of Yes votes and was placed on Postponed Consideration. A second House vote was taken on May 30, 2018 and Tobacco 21 passed the Illinois House of Representatives with a bipartisan 61 Yes votes, 49 No votes and 1 Present vote. Then, on August 24, 2018 Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill. And unfortunately, while an override of Governor Rauner's veto did succeed in the Senate, it did not get the necessary three-fifths vote in the House during the November veto override session. On a more positive note, 16 new local Tobacco 21 ordinances were passed in 2018, bringing the total number of local Tobacco 21 laws to 28, covering over one-third of the state's population.

With new Governor J.B. Pritzker taking office, the American Lung Association in Illinois and partners hope to pass and get signed into law a Tobacco 21 bill during 2019. The Lung Association will also continue to work with our partners to ensure tobacco control programs are adequately funded, defend the Smoke Free Illinois Act from any weakening attempts and continue to create a norm of smokefree workplaces, multi-unit housing and outdoor recreational areas

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