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Illinois Ashes Tobacco Age Bill

The age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products in Illinois remains at 18, for now. The Illinois House of Representatives failed to override Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto on Wednesday with a vote of 62-45.

The measure passedthe House in the spring with 61 votes. Bill sponsor Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) said she knew getting 71 votes – the necessary number to override– was highly unlikely. Still, she called the bill to “keep the conversation going" and said she will be back next session with a similar push.  

“Presenting it in the next General Assembly under a new governor who believes in this project and believes this is something we should be doing,” Lilly said. 

However, Governor-elect JB Pritzker has yet to take a stance on the issue. In a statement, his spokesperson said: "We'll have to see if the new General Assembly has the votes to pass it again next year and then  (Pritzker) will work with stakeholders to figure out what's best for Illinois." 

Along with increasing the age, the measure also would remove any penalties for minors who do get their hands on tobacco products. Opponents took issue with this provision. State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) was one of them. 

“So what you’re doing is creating an incentive for folks under 21," said Breen. "They can now possess tobacco under your bill. Whereas today, they would not be able to.”

Despite the objections to this portion of the proposal, Lilly said it will still be included in the bill filed next year. She said this is because she believes minors should not be the ones being punished and tobacco companies should be held accountable. 

The Senate narrowly voted to override the veto earlier this month. 

Dozens of Illinois communities have already adopted their own laws raising the age from 18 to 21.

Jaclyn has an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a BS in History form Monmouth College. Prior to reporting, Jaclyn was a social science teacher and department chair at Greenfield High School. Previously, Jaclyn reported for WICS Newschannel 20 where she covered a variety of assignments including courts, politics, and breaking news. She also reported at Siouxland News in Sioux City Iowa, the shared CBS/Fox television newsroom. Her internships included WGN and Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.
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