Governor should sign Tobacco 21 bill

Gov. Rauner has the opportunity to help secure a healthier future for thousands of Illinois children, and I encourage him to take it.

Legislation to raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 in Illinois has passed both the House and Senate, has been passed in 27 municipalities around the state and is supported by more than 70 percent of Illinois residents. I urge the governor to sign Senate bill 2332 into law.

Smoking kills more than 18,000 Illinois residents each year, and the majority of those smokers start young. Research shows that 95 percent of adult smokers start before the age of 21, setting themselves up for a lifetime of painful and debilitating chronic health issues. These issues cost the state of Illinois nearly $5.4 billion each year.

This legislation also covers e-cigarettes, which are quickly becoming the tobacco product of choice for today's teenagers. Contrary to what the tobacco industry would have you believe, e-cigarettes are not safe. They contain carcinogens and a host of other harmful chemicals including nicotine, which has been shown to inhibit brain development in adolescents.

By increasing the age to 21, we decrease access to tobacco products for teens and stop the next generation from ever starting. It's time we kick this deadly habit for good.

Scott Saxe, Chair

American Heart Association Illinois Advocacy Committee

Elk Grove Village

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