Tobacco 21, HB 345 (Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago/ Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield), has passed the House with a vote of 82-31 and the Senate by a vote 39-16. This bill raises the age for whom tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and alternative nicotine products may be sold to from at least 18 years of age to at least 21 years of age.
Tobacco 21 prohibits all licensed Illinois retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. It raises the age for whom tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and alternative nicotine products may be sold to. It defines “alternative nicotine product” as a product or device not consisting of or containing tobacco that provides for the ingestion into the body of nicotine, whether by chewing, smoking, absorbing, dissolving, inhaling, snorting, sniffing, or by any other means which includes e-cigarettes and vaping equipment.
Oddly enough, this bill also completely removes the penalties for the purchase, possession, selling, or consumption of tobacco for anyone under 21. In effect it makes it “legal” for a person under the age of 21 to possess tobacco, consume, sell tobacco, buy tobacco from an unlicensed Illinois retailer or individual, or buy tobacco from a licensed out-of-state retailer or online. By doing so, this bill protects unlicensed, unregulated, and, untaxed individuals selling tobacco to minors while prohibiting licensed Illinois retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. The only thing Tobacco 21 does penalize a minor for is using a fraudulent identification for purchasing tobacco and related products.
The bill has been sent to Governor Pritzker for his signature which would put the law into effect July 1, 2019. Pritzker’s administration is also proposing a 36 percent tax on the wholesale price on e-cigarettes, which would be the same rate as other tobacco products.