A bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and tobacco alternative products in Illinois from 18- to 21-years-old has been vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
While the governor acknowledged that the use of tobacco can be harmful to one’s health, he said that the bill did little to keep tobacco out of the hands of children and ultimately limited the choice of consumers within the state.
Additionally, via a press release, the governor said that “the existing penalty that this legislation removes for minors possessing tobacco is reasonable, provides the opportunity for education on the harmful effects of tobacco products, and is a disincentive for tobacco use. Eliminating this penalty will make it harder for communities to effectively address the public health issues connected to tobacco products.”
The bill had been passed by the House during the final days of the legislative session by a 61-49 vote, while the Senate passed it with a 35-20 vote in April. Had the governor signed it, Illinois would have become the seventh state to enact such an age increase, joining California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon and Massachusetts, which just enacted its increase on July 28, though it is a progressive increase that will be rolled out over the next two years.
The bill can still be enacted by the General Assembly via an override, which requires passage by a three-fifths vote in both houses.