The Morris City Council unanimously passed an amendment to its local tobacco ordinance this week, complying with a new state law that raises the legal age to purchase cigarettes.
On Monday, council members approved the amendment to the local code relating to sale of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and alternative nicotine products within the city limits.
The change prohibits sale of tobacco to those under 21, and requires stores that sell tobacco products to place signage noting the legal age in their stores.
"State law has changed the age to purchase tobacco products," said Mayor Richard Kopczick. "We're coming into compliance for that."
A "tobacco product" is identified as any product made of tobacco designed for human consumption, whether smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested. It includes cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.
Electronic cigarettes include all electronic nicotine delivery systems.
The state law adjusting the age to purchase all tobacco products in the state went into effect on Monday.
Statewide, people must now be at least 21-years-old to buy tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Governor JB Pritzker signed the initiative, known as Tobacco 21, on April 7, 2019. Illinois was the 7th state in the U.S. (tied with Virginia) to implement raising the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 years.
“I’m so proud that Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to raise the purchase age for tobacco to 21,” said Gov. Pritzker earlier this week. “This law will reduce costs for our state, make our schools and communities healthier places to learn and live, and most importantly, will save lives."
About 4,800 Illinois teens become new daily smokers each year.
In 2016, 15.8% of Illinois adults smoked, resulting in an estimated 18,300 deaths each year associated with tobacco use.
In 2017, 7.6% of high school students smoked on at least one day in the past 30 days.
Most underage tobacco users rely on social sources like friends and family to get tobacco. Approximately 90% of those who supply cigarettes to minors are themselves, under the age of 21. National data indicate about 95% of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21.
According to a study from the National Academy of Medicine, Tobacco 21 policies could reduce overall smoking by 12% by the time today’s teenagers become adults. The biggest decrease in tobacco use could be among youth ages 15-17 (25%) and 18-20 (15%).
In addition to prohibiting the sale and sample distribution of tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and alternative nicotine products to individuals under age 21, the law requires tobacco and e-cigarette retailers to update age verification training programs for employees, specifies age verification requirements for retailers, and clarifies penalties against retailers for violation of sales provisions.
In a 24-month period, the first offense is $200; second offense is $400; third offense is $600; fourth or subsequent offense is $800. The law also removes penalties for youth possession of covered products, including fines (previously $50-$100) or attendance at a smoker’s education or youth diversion program.
Smoking-related health care costs in the U.S. are estimated at almost $5.5 billion annually, with another $5.3 billion lost due to smoking-related losses in productivity.Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer. For most smoking-related cancers, the risk rises as the individual continues to smoke. Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of using other drugs.
Currently, 16 states have raised the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.