Just a day after it seemed that a bill in the Illinois House of Representatives seeking to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and tobacco alternative products to 21-years-old didn’t have the votes to pass, supporters managed to wrangle the necessary number of votes to pass it by a 61-49 vote on Wednesday, with one representative simply voting present.
S.B. 2332 cleared the Senate by a 35-20 vote in April, sending it to the House where it had been scheduled for its third reading and vote on Tuesday. However, the bill’s sponsor requested postponement of the vote after it appeared it would be short of the necessary 60 votes by between four and six votes, and with a May 31 deadline to get bills passed, it appeared unlikely it would come up for a vote. However, the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago), had the right to call for a vote prior to the deadline, and on Wednesday did so and got the support needed to secure its passage.
In addition to raising the minimum age, the bill eliminates the penalty for possession of a cigar, cigarette, smokeless tobacco, or tobacco in any of its forms by persons under 18 years of age. An amendment added by the Senate makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a person who is under 21 years of age to use a false or forged identification to obtain tobacco products.
The bill now goes to Governor Bruce Rauner for his approval or veto. If he signs it into law, Illinois will become the sixth state to make 21 the minimum age to purchase tobacco, joining California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon. That list could soon get a seventh member, as Massachusetts currently has a similar bill in its Senate, with the state House of Representatives already approving it.