The Tobacco 21 movement added another trophy to its mantle.
Buoyed by unanimous vote from its elected officials, Normal, Ill., became the 27th city in Illinois to increase the legal age to purchase vaping and tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. The new regulation will go into effect Dec. 1, according to tobacco21.org.
Normal’s new ordinance calls for retailers busted for selling vaping and tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old to be fined $50 for the initial offense and $500 for additional infractions.
The action is meant to aid the movement to prevent underage vaping and smoking.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported vaping use among high school students increased 78 percent from 2017 to 2018. The CDC reported 20.8 percent of high school students smoked e-cigarettes at least once.
To Normal officials, enough was enough. Time to make a stand.
“Smoking (traditional cigarettes) is what killed my father,” said R.C. McBride, serves as a council member and has been an advocate for change. “This was something that kind of hit home personally, knowing those who have passed away from lung disease, from prolonged tobacco usage.”
In the weeks leading up to the council’s Nov. 19 vote, a Tobacco 21 coalition “meet-and-greet” was staged at Illinois State University to harness support. McBride said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm displayed by students taking up the cause, according to tobacco21.org.
“I think we all had a similar experience that night,” McBride said. “It was interesting as you talked to (the students), most all of them had gotten involved because they knew someone who’d had lung cancer or something.
“I’m pleased to see people in that age group standing up and saying, ‘We want this, and we want this now.’ ”
Founded in 1996, Tobacco 21 is an organization focused on raising the tobacco and vaping age to 21 nationwide. Its website boasts more than 360 communities in 22 states have enacted similar legislation.
There’s little doubt, Tobacco 21’s Illinois organization has already laid the groundwork for community No. 28 to soon join the fold.
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