Gov. JB Pritzker signs bill raising smoking age to 21 statewide

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to raise the buying age of nicotine products to 21 after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed landmark legislation Sunday.

Gov. Pritzker was joined by the bill's sponsors, State Rep. Camille Lilly and State Sen. Julie Morrison. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Senate President John Cullerton, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin also joined the governor. Representatives from health organizations and hospital systems throughout Illinois, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Respiratory Health Association were also be in attendance.

WATCH: Raw video of signing ceremony held by Governor J.B. Pritzker at Mile Square Health Center
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Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to raise the minimum statewide age to purchase tobacco products to 21 on Sunday.

"Today is a milestone day for the health of our communities and especially our young people," said Gov. JB Pritzker. "We are here today to raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21 in Illinois. This is action that's supported by the surgeon general, the American Cancer Society, our own Illinois Department of Public Health, our local health departments, by all available research, every standing here and by common sense."

HB 345 covers both tobacco and vaping products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes and vapes.

After four years of legislative effort and a veto by Gov. Rauner, lawmakers swiftly passed the Tobacco 21 bill mere weeks ago. The bill takes effect July 1, when Illinois and Virginia will become the eighth and ninth states to implement the legislation.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Illinois. This year, more than 4,800 kids under age 18 in the state will become new daily smokers. But if a person doesn't begin using tobacco before age 21, they are less likely to start in the future.

As a result of the City's robust policy agenda and enforcement actions, teen smoking in Chicago has reached a record low of six percent, dropping by more than half over the last six years.

In February, Mayor Emanuel announced that the City filed a lawsuit against 27 online sellers of e-cigarettes and vaping liquids for selling the products to minors.

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Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign a bill to raise the minimum statewide age to purchase tobacco products to 21 on Sunday.

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