House GOP leader Durkin has change of heart, supports legislation to raise legal tobacco age to 21
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Burr Ridge) stood in support of a bill that will raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21 in Illinois.
Durkin had previously fought against the bill but this time he recommended that everyone support the legislation.
"I’ve been around here a few years and this issue has been around as long as I have been," Durkin said. "I’ve always been fighting it. But, I’m here to say today that I’m no longer fighting it."
Durkin said his 17-year-old daughter urged him to support the bill.
"She said, 'Dad, you have got to do something. It's out of control,'" Durkin said. "I cannot ignore what the U.S. Surgeon General has said about teen smoking and e-cigarettes. We can no longer ignore this and stick our heads in the sand."
House Bill 345 changes the age requirement for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21 in Illinois. The bill passed the House with 82 Yes votes and 31 No votes.
Camille Y. Lilly (D-Oak Park) sponsored the bill in the House and said the bill had been debated for the last four years.
"It’s before you again because the past governor vetoed it," Lilly said.
The bill, referred to by many as "Tobacco 21" or "T-21," amends the Prevention of Tobacco Use by Minors and Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products Act and changes the name of the act to the Prevention of Tobacco Use by Persons under 21 Years of Age and Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products Act.
The bill raises the age to 21 for tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and alternative nicotine products. It also defines "electronic cigarette" and repeals the Smokeless Tobacco Limitation Act.
If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor, it will go into effect July 1.