Tobacco 21 to Governor

Tobacco 21, HB 345 (Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago/ Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield), passed the House with a vote of 82-31 and the Senate by a vote 39-16. Tobacco 21 passed the Senate and narrowly passed the House last spring with 61 votes before being vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. In the meantime more than 34 Illinois municipalities passed a Tobacco 21 measure.

HB 345 prohibits a licensed Illinois retailer from selling tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21, but removes the penalties for the purchase, possession, selling, or consumption of tobacco for the same individuals. It completely removes the specific prohibition of the possession of tobacco products by a minor.  And it only prohibits a minor from selling tobacco products, as an employee, at a licensed retailer. In fact, the only thing SB 21 penalizes a minor for is using a fraudulent identification.

As a result, since the Illinois statutes would no longer penalize a minor for any of the aforementioned, SB 21 makes it “legal” for a person under the age of 21 to: (1) possess tobacco, (2) consume tobacco, (3) sell tobacco, (4) buy tobacco from an unlicensed Illinois retailer or individual, or (5) buy tobacco from a licensed out-of-state retailer or online.  As such, the bill protects unlicensed, unregulated, and, untaxed individuals selling tobacco to minors while prohibiting licensed Illinois retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21.

The legislation has been sent to Gov. Pritzker for his signature. Part of the Governor’s budget relied on vaping and tobacco taxes. As of this writing, there has been no word on how this will impact those revenue estimates. If signed, the changes will go into effect July 1.

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