Senate President: New governor offers new hope in fight to curb teen vaping, smoking

jjc 031419SPRINGFIELD —  Hoping a new governor results in a better outcome, the Illinois Senate overwhelmingly approved raising to 21 the legal age to buy cigarettes and alternative nicotine products, clearing the way for the proposal to go to Gov. JB Pritzker and become state law.

The 39-16 vote Thursday comes less than a year after the Senate approved an identical proposal only to have it vetoed by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. Since then, the proposal has steadily picked up support.


“Everyone knows this should already be the law. Thankfully, we’ve got a new governor and a new chance to right past wrongs and make Illinois a healthier state,” said Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a public health advocate and supporter of the Tobacco 21 legislation.

The key issue, Cullerton said, is preventing young adults from buying cigarettes for younger teenagers, who then become addicted and face a lifetime of increased health problems.

More than 30 Illinois communities have these restrictions in place. Evanston was first nearly five years ago. Others include Chicago, Normal, Barrington and Hoffman Estates.

“We’ve seen this work in Chicago and other numerous communities. I want to thank Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his work to not only improve public health in the city but to support our efforts here to do the same statewide,” Cullerton said. “It’s time for the state to step up and protect our children from this known danger.”

Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and most recently Virginia have all enacted Tobacco 21 legislation. In Virginia, the bipartisan proposal was even backed by one of the nation’s largest tobacco companies.

The Illinois proposal, HB 345, is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Julie Morrison, a suburban Deerfield Democrat. Lawmakers have 30 days to send the paperwork to Gov. Pritzker’s office. He then has 60 days to sign or veto it.

Sen. President Cullerton

6th Senate District
President of the Senate

Years served: 1979 - 1991 (House); 1991 - 2020 (Senate)

Committee assignments: Committee of the Whole; Executive.

Biography: Attorney; born Oct. 28, 1948, in Chicago; B.A., political science, Loyola University; J.D., Loyola University Law School; served in Illinois National Guard, 1970-76; former Assistant Public Defender and instructor at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy; married (wife, Pamela), has five children.

Associated Representatives:
Sara Feigenholtz
Ann M. Williams