MAYWOOD, IL – A bill that would raise the minimum age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21 could be heard by the Illinois General Assembly later this week and Loyola Medicine strongly encourages legislators to support the measure.
SB 3011, known as Tobacco 21, passed the Senate Public Health Committee on a 6-3 vote and will next be discussed on the Senate floor. Loyola Medicine urges supporters to contact their legislators or sign this Take Action campaign to advocate in favor of this important bill.
“Increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 is a logical, simple policy change that will have a substantial positive impact on public health and save lives,” said Larry M. Goldberg, president and CEO of Loyola University Health System. “Doing so will help to delay the age of initial tobacco use and reduce the risk of becoming a regular smoker.”
Despite recent progress in reducing tobacco use in the U.S., 5.6 million of today’s youth are currently at risk of dying prematurely from a smoking-related illness. The ages of 18-21 are a crucial period in which tobacco use goes from experimental to daily and habit-forming.
Nearly nine of out of 10 smokers start before they turn 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A 2015 study in the Journal of Preventative Medicine reported that increasing the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 will “reduce the smoking rate by about 12 percent and smoking-related deaths by 10 percent, which translates into 233,000 fewer premature deaths, 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer, and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost.”
Three out of four American adults favor making 21 the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products. Nearly 78 percent of adults who have never smoked support raising the age, and about 75 percent of former smokers are also in favor of the measure.
During the last year, about a dozen states have introduced similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Loyola University Health System is collaborating with the following organizations in support of SB 3011:
- Trinity Health
- Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
- Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing
- American Heart Association
- American Cancer Society Action Network
- American Lung Association
- Illinois Hospital Association
- Coalition of Chicago Area Academic Medical Centers
- Tobacco Free Kids
- Respiratory Health Association
“Together we can reduce smoking and save the lives of our younger and future generations,” Goldberg said.