Governor Bruce Rauner vetoes legislation barring tobacco sales to those under 21

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed legislation that bars tobacco sales to those under age 21.

In a Friday statement, Rauner said raising the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 would "push residents to buy tobacco products from non-licensed vendors or in neighboring states."

Chicago Democratic Rep. Camille Lilly's legislation would have prohibited sales of tobacco products to minors and barred the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping materials.

The American Lung Association says Rauner "failed" Illinois children. The organization says the law would have protected children, reduced smoking rates and saved lives.

It isn't known if Rauner's veto can be overturned. The proposed legislation cleared the House with one vote to spare.

Five states and 14 Illinois counties and cities, including Chicago, have already adopted local ordinances setting the age at 21.

The American Heart Association released a statement in response to the veto saying, "We are deeply disappointed in Governor Rauner's decision to veto SB 2332. In vetoing this bill, which would have raised the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 in Illinois, he has put the health of our children at risk.

Smoking kills more than 18,000 adults in Illinois annually. Research shows that most smokers start young - 95 percent of adult smokers began before the age of 21. By increasing the age to purchase tobacco, we can decrease our children's access to these products and stop them before they ever start this deadly habit.

The use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, sets our children up for a lifetime of chronic health issues, including heart disease, cancer and lung disease. SB 2332 was a bi-partisan bill with statewide support, including backing from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

This bill would have saved lives. It's unfortunate that Governor Rauner's priorities don't include the health of our children."

WLS-contributed to this report
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