Bill Would Raise Illinois' Legal Smoking Age | WGLT

Bill Would Raise Illinois' Legal Smoking Age

Feb 19, 2016

Credit Ben Seidelman / Flickr

The legal age to smoke in Illinois would increase from 18 to 21 under legislation introduced in Springfield.

Ginnie Flynn, with the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, doesn't smoke now. But she did when she was younger. She says cigarettes were easily accessible from a convenience store near her college dorm.

"I was smart enough to get into college, but I probably wasn't smart enough to make the best choice for myself at that time. And I didn't." She adds, "when I was finally smart enough to make the choice to quit, it was hard, and it did take multiple times.  And I never once look back on those days and say 'boy that was cool, when I was that 20 year-old smoking in my dorm and smoking around campus.' "

Advocates say keeping cigarettes out of teens' reach could reduce the roughly $5.5 billion the state spends every year on smoking-related health costs. The tobacco lobby has fought hard against previous efforts to restrict smoking in Illinois.

The statewide effort comes as Chicago's mayor is pushing the city to raise its legal smoking age to 21; he's been opposed by aldermen who say 18 year-olds aren't kids.