Tobacco 21 is taking different paths throughout the smoking/vaping community.
The initiative, backed by the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, intends to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years old in the U.S. Currently six state-wide and more than 330 communities in 21 states have bills on the books, according to tobacco21.org.
It certainly has not been a smooth ride.
Take Illinois, for example.
Against vocal critics, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed its Tobacco 21 legislation, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The bill, where it could prove challenging to override Rauner’s veto, recently passed both the Illinois Senate (35-20) and Illinois House (61-49).
In a letter to the General Assembly, Rauner explained his decision: “Raising the age people can purchase tobacco products will push residents to buy tobacco products from non-licensed vendors or in neighboring states. Since no neighboring state has raised the age for purchasing tobacco products, local businesses and the State will see decreased revenue while public health impacts continue.”
The bill’s lead sponsor, Julie Morrison, is mong Rauner’s staunchest critics. The Democratic State Senator said communities who “adopted Tobacco 21 on their own have seen a dramatic decrease in high school smoking rates. At a time of increased vaping use among teens, the governor had an opportunity to make a real investment in the health of our next generation. Instead, he favored political considerations over the health of our children, and in doing so failed us all.”
Rauner’s decision reverberated throughout the state.
Wauconda, Ill., officials decided Aug. 24 against installing Tobacco 21 legislation for the remainder of 2018, according to the Daily Herald. Clearly, the Lake County village’s trustees “punted” the issue from the municipal to the state level and decided to wait and see if Rauner’s veto is eventually overridden.
“I don’t know that this is a local issue. I’d rather see it handled by the state or federal government,” said Linda Starkey, a trustee.
In Ontario County, New York, the residents were much more decisive. Voting on a Tobacco 21 initiative, 2,423 wanted status quo and only 995 wanted to raise the legal age of smoking, according to the Finger Lakes Times.
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