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  • State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) joins with her colleagues and health advocates at a press conference in Springfield this afternoon in support of Tobacco 21. The measure passed the Senate Public Health Committee and will now head to the Senate floor for further debate.SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) joined her colleagues and health advocates at a press conference in the Capitol this afternoon to announce a renewed effort to combat teen smoking by raising the age to legally purchase tobacco products in Illinois to 21.

    Today’s press conference comes after a recent study by the American Lung Association that highlights Illinois’ failure to do enough to cut down on tobacco and e-cigarette use.

    “Illinois has a real opportunity to make a major impact to bring down smoking rates among teenagers,” Morrison said. “Tobacco 21 will reduce access in our young populations, bring down overall smoking rates over time and save the state millions in health care costs.”

    Morrison sponsored an identical proposal last year that was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner despite passing on a bipartisan vote in both the Senate and the House.

    Meanwhile, municipalities and local governments across the state have stepped up and enacted their own Tobacco 21 laws. Suburban Arlington Heights became the latest municipality to institute Tobacco 21 on Jan. 7. Thirty-four Illinois communities and six states have already raised the age to purchase tobacco to 21.

    “With the rise of easily concealable and fruit and candy flavored tobacco products, Tobacco 21 is important now more than ever,” said Kathy Drea, vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association.

    Morrison’s proposal, contained in Senate Bill 21, was introduced on Jan. 9 and passed the Senate Public Health Committee this afternoon on a 8-4 vote. The measure now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.

  • morrison ecig 0216SPRINGFIELD – A new law that prohibits minors from possessing e-cigarettes and other tobacco-free nicotine products was signed on Friday by the governor. State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) introduced the proposal last year in hopes of updating Illinois law to protect children from the dangers of this increasingly popular product.  

    “Current Illinois law prohibits the selling of these products to kids,” Morrison said. “It only makes sense that they should also be prohibited from being in their possession.”

    In Illinois, it is already illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess cigarettes, cigars and all other forms of tobacco. The penalty for the first violation is a fine of $25 or 15 hours of community service, and the maximum penalty for repeated violations is a fine of $100 and 30 hours of community service.

    Morrison's plan would impose the same penalties for the possession of e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products.

    While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they still pose potential health risks, especially for minors. Nicotine, an addictive chemical, can affect fetal brain development and can alter growth and function of the nervous system. The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes have not yet been thoroughly evaluated.