The legal smoking age in Illinois would go up from 18 to 21 under proposed legislation pending in the state Senate.
Illinoisans would have to be 21 to purchase both tobacco products and electronic cigarettes under the measure, SB 3011, which has been sent to the Senate's Public Health Committee.
Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago), the bill's chief sponsor, said the proposal is aimed at preventing young people from picking up smoking and saving the state money on health costs associated with the dangerous habit.
"In addition to the costs of the individual, (smoking) costs our state, privately and publicly, over $5 billion annually to treat smoking-related illnesses," Mulroe told the State Journal-Register. "Specifically to the state, $2 billion in Medicaid is spent annually on illnesses related to smoking, and obviously we could use those dollars for other services that aren't getting supported right now."
The proposal is being considered after Chicago passed its own legislation last week raising the smoking age in the city from 18 to 21. The city ordinance will also hike taxes on cigars, smokeless tobacco and rolling tobacco to raise $6 million.