Illinois Changing Legal Smoking Age to 21

By 2016, most people are pretty much aware of the dangers involved in cigarette smoking. Although the country might never see cigarettes actually become illegal, many people are fighting to end the sale of tobacco products. One way that the state of Illinois might do their part is in raising the legal age in which one could purchase and smoke cigarettes. Currently, if you are 18 or older you can purchase cigarettes throughout the state, however Senator John G. Mulroe has developed a proposal which would increase the legal age to 21.


Reasons for age increase

Mulroe and other health advocates spoke out about the possibility of increasing the legal smoking age. Reasons given for the change include the obvious reason that smoking is deadly, and would prevent younger adults from purchasing tobacco products. Smoking is also extremely expensive, especially in the Chicagoland area, with prices of cigarettes ranging from $8-$14. Not only is smoking expensive to the individual buying a pack every day, it is expensive for the state.  Mulroe stated that $5 billion is spent annually in Illinois to treat smoking-related illnesses, and $2 billion comes from taxpayer Medicaid funds. The final reason for increasing the age is because research shows individuals who do not smoke before 21 will likely never start smoking.


Smokers agree with the change

Mulroe claims that many current smokers actually believe raising the age to 21 for purchase of tobacco products is a good idea, especially since several of them wish they themselves never started smoking. Once you start, you become addicted and it is so hard to quit. Individuals who do not smoke and don’t object to others smoking haven’t really made much of a fuss regarding the issue, as it doesn’t really relate to them. Not everyone agrees that raising the age to 21 would actually be a good idea.


Individuals against raising the age

There are others who believe that in raising the tobacco purchase age to 21, Illinois would be restricting personal liberties of adults. If they can join the military, live on your own, and are required to pay taxes, then you should be able to purchase tobacco products at 18. This is the same argument that tends to come into play when discussing a lower age to purchase alcohol. However, many believe that if an 18 year old still wants to smoke a cigarette, even with all of the health issues it may cause, then they have the right. If Illinois changes the age to 21 for the sale of cigarettes, what will they take away next?


Not always right and wrong

Some people just look at the change as right or wrong, and it shouldn’t be seen that way. The proposed bill is not about taking the rights away from young adults, but rather providing them with the opportunity to never pick up the habit of smoking to begin with. Mulroe said that the bill would apply to the sale, purchase, and possession of all tobacco products. This would also include the popular e-cigarettes, which have been found to be just as dangerous a regular cigarettes.


We will have to wait and see if the bill is passed to see what kind of outcome would occur with an increased tobacco age.


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