A bill in the Illinois House of Representatives seeking to raise the age to purchase tobacco products cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday, getting the approval of the House Health & Healthcare Disparities Committee by a 3-1 vote.

The bill, H.B. 4297, now heads to the House floor for its second reading and short debate. It is being sponsored by Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Oak Park and has garnered 17 co-sponsors since being introduced in late January.

Meanwhile, a companion bill in the Senate, S.B. 2332, is still awaiting a hearing in the Senate Public Health Committee. That bill was introduced by Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, and has signed on four co-sponsors.

This is the second in recent years that Illinois has sought to pass a statewide increase in the tobacco purchasing age; a similar bill in 2016 passed the Senate, but failed to make it to a vote in the House.

Chicago passed an increase in its tobacco purchasing age that went into effect on July 1, 2016.

Currently there are five states that have passed increases to the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21-years-old: Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Maine and Oregon. Several states currently have active legislation seeking to join that group, including Washington, where the state’s attorney general is leading the push for an increase for a third consecutive session. Also seeking an increase are Florida, Arizona, New Hampshire, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota and West Virginia.

A bill in Mississippi recently ran into a split committee vote that has ended its progress, while a bill in Indiana cleared its first committee hearing only to die via a political maneuver that ensured it would not get a vote.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.