Smoking age in Illinois rises

As of July 1, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 in Illinois to purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Illinois is one of 14 states that have raised the smoking age to 21. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB345, an initiative known as Tobacco 21, on April 7.

In 2018, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, said e-cigarette use among young people was increasing at a rate of “epidemic proportions.” E-cigarettes entered the U.S. marketplace around 2007, and since 2014 they have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. E-cigarette use among U.S. middle and high school students increased 900 percent during 2011-2015, before declining for the first time during 2015-2017. However, current e-cigarette use increased 78 percent among high school students during the past year, from 11.7 percent in 2017 to 20.8 percent in 2018. In 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students, currently use e-cigarettes.

According to the National Cancer Institute, smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause about 480,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S. Of these premature deaths, about 36 percent are from cancer, 39 percent are from heart disease and stroke, and 24 percent are from lung disease. Mortality rates among smokers are about three times higher than among people who have never smoked.

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