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Illinois is now a “Tobacco 21” state, here’s how the law is different

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois is now the nation’s seventeenth “Tobacco 21” state, and while the law seems straightforward, it contains some unexpected nuances.

The law specifically prohibits the sale of any tobacco, vaping, or liquid nicotine product to anyone younger than 21 in the state of Illinois.

Bloomington Police spokesman John Fermon said his department has been publicizing plans for compliance checks on local businesses to make sure those businesses are abiding by the new law.

“We wanted to make sure that retailers were aware of the change and had time to prepare,” Fermon said.

The legislation also scrapped the “possession” component of Illinois law. Fermon said officers may still stop a young child smoking, but they’re not going to worry about a 19 year old smoking.

“It just eliminates the extra either fine or charge, the status offense charge,” he said. “It makes their job a little bit easier in that they don’t have to document that or worry about it.”

A breakdown of Tobacco 21 law change:

Bans the sale of tobacco products, vaping products, and liquid nicotine products to anyone younger than 21.

Removes illegal “possession” laws for underage people seen with the aforementioned products and scraps a provision that would require a minor and guardian to attend a smoking prevention class.

Sets the legal age of selling e-cigarette products at 16 to match tobacco laws with exceptions for family-owned businesses.

Adds e-cigarettes to products allowable for purchase by minors in orchestrating “stings” or compliance checks by law enforcement, meaning law enforcement would be able to conduct checks on vaping establishments without legality issues of a minor attempting to purchase the banned products.

Sets delivery sales requirement for businesses to 21, up from 18.

Dozens of municipalities across the state had already banned the sale of tobacco to people younger than 21.

Half of tobacco and vape shops don’t ID teens, undercover research finds

(CNN)An undercover operation in California found that half of tobacco and vape shops failed to check IDs for teens purchasing e-cigarettes and other nicotine products, despite a state law raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21.

Researchers sent 18- and 19-year-old “decoys” into stores without ID, instructing them to tell the truth about their age if asked. The teenagers then attempted to purchase vape products — e-cigarettes or e-liquids with nicotine — and a chaperone watched to see if the store asked for ID and made a sale.
Almost half of tobacco and vape shops illegally sold nicotine-containing products to the teens, according to the research, published Monday in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics. Liquor stores, supermarkets and pharmacies were significantly more likely to check for ID and less likely to make the illegal sales.
The research team, consisting of scientists from the California Department of Public Health and Stanford University, also found that vape and tobacco shops were more likely to sell teenagers vape products than traditional cigarettes.

It’s unclear why that’s the case, but “one possibility may be that vape products cost more and they might have a higher profit margin for retailers, so the temptation is greater to sell,” said Lisa Henriksen, a co-author of the study and a senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

‘Raising the age is not enough’

Anti-tobacco advocates say the research raises questions over recent efforts to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21, most recently championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Matthew L. Myers, said the study “underscores the serious shortcomings of claims” from vape manufacturers that “the only solution needed for the youth e-cigarette epidemic is to raise the tobacco age to 21.”

E-cigarette use among teens has skyrocketed in recent years, with nearly 40% of 12th graders now saying they use the devices, according to a report released last year. “Raising the age is not enough and won’t work when tobacco and vape shops aren’t even checking IDs of young purchasers,” said Myers.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said that “due to California’s recently enacted law raising the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21, it is probable that those under 18 are less likely to successfully purchase than in the past, but retailers are still mistakenly selling products to adults between the ages of 18 and 21.”

In June 2016, California raised its age limit for tobacco products to 21, and more than 98% of retailers were aware of the new age restriction seven months after it went into effect, according to a survey conducted by researchers at the California Department of Public Health.

Conley added that “no youth sales should ever be permitted” and said his group supports mandatory ID scanners at points of sale. The country’s leading vape manufacturer, Juul Labs, has also advocated for “Tobacco 21” laws in digital, print and radio ads.

In a statement last week, after Connecticut raised the purchase age for tobacco and vape products to 21, Juul said the laws “fight one of the largest contributors to this problem: sharing by legal-age peers.” The company also said it has its own secret-shopper program, targeting 2,000 stores a month to ensure age verification.

But Myers, whose group has long advocated for raising the legal age to purchase tobacco, says recent laws that do that — such as those passed in Texas and Illinois — don’t go far enough. “It’s critical to prohibit the flavored products that are enticing and addicting kids,” he said.

‘Preventing teen access’

Juul has considered opening private retail stores that would check customers’ IDs at the door. The move came amid heightened scrutiny of the company, including a lawsuit from North Carolina’s attorney general accusing the manufacturer of marketing products to children.

In September, the FDA announced that a “blitz” on retailers resulted in more than 1,300 warning letters and fines related to sales of Juuls and other e-cigarettes to minors. In November, the agency proposed a plan to limit flavored vape products to age-restricted, adult-only stores, such as vape shops.

“We need to commend the FDA for trying to solve the epidemic of youth vaping by restricting the retail environment for these products,” said Henriksen, who co-authored the new study on IDs.
“What we’re worried about,” she said, “is concentrating sales in stores with the worst record [of age verification and illegal sales] without stepping up enforcement significantly.”

Beverly Hills becomes the first U.S. city to end most tobacco sales

Beverly Hills has passed what experts say is the most restrictive tobacco ban in the nation, barring the sale of virtually all nicotine products and setting the stage for similar laws in other cities.

“They’ve set the bar pretty high for us and any city to follow,” said Mayor Pro Tem Richard Montgomery of Manhattan Beach, which is studying its own ban. “We’re encouraged by our colleagues in Beverly Hills taking this courageous step forward.”

The ban, which takes effect in 2021, drew headlines for its extreme stringency, as well as for carve-outs to allow cigar lounges to continue to ply their trade in the tony enclave.

Under the final version of the ordinance, approved Tuesday night by the Beverly Hills City Council, gas stations and convenience stores will be forbidden to sell cigarettes, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes, while hotels will retain the right to sell them — but only through room service.

“We’ve been watching with bated breath,” said Chris Bostic, policy director at Action Smoking and Health and an early adviser on the rule. “I think that [City Council members] were fully aware when they were voting that they were making history.”

That’s because where Beverly Hills leads, others have followed, experts said.

“Other communities have wanted to do this in the past, but have backed off because the tobacco industry organized major opposition,” said Ruth Malone, a tobacco policy expert at UC San Francisco. “The FDA can’t ban cigarettes. The only ones who can do it are state and local jurisdictions.”

It is already illegal to smoke almost everywhere in Beverly Hills, including in apartment buildings, in parks and while standing on the sidewalk. The city was the first municipality to ban smoking in restaurants in 1987 and has spent decades tightening limits around tobacco.

Tuesday’s ban once again puts it at the vanguard.

“Beverly Hills is more aggressive than almost any other city around, so they’re leading the way,” said Dr. Richard Shemin, chairman of cardiac surgery at UCLA, who was among hundreds who fought for the cigar club exception. “In the end they took a very responsible approach to it and tried to find the right balance.”

After months of debate, the City Council passed the first reading of the ordinance unanimously on May 21. The second sailed through in similarly understated fashion.

“Yesterday I think they were so excited that all their T’s had been crossed that they just voted it in and everybody clapped and that was it,” said Bostic, who watched the meeting remotely.

California has long been at the forefront of anti-smoking legislation. The state already has one of the lowest rates of smoking in the country, second only to Utah. But recent years have seen a renewed appetite for restrictions.

“There has been a groundswell in California where restricting flavored tobacco is catching on,” said Phillip Gardiner, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. In both Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach, such flavor bans immediately preceded the push to ban all sales of tobacco.

But, like many California municipalities that have passed them, Manhattan Beach exempted mentholated products from its recent flavored-tobacco restrictions.

“Part of the opposition’s argument is this is a ‘black cigarette’ and by targeting it you’re discriminating against black people,” Gardiner said. “But let’s be fair, it’s the tobacco industry that pushed these down our throats.”

For some, he said, a total ban may be easier to pass.

“It’s a fast moving front,” said Malone, the UCSF researcher. “We haven’t seen this kind of energy on tobacco for quite a while.”

Bostic said he expects to see the rule challenged by tobacco companies, but that Beverly Hills “is on such solid ground” that other municipalities are likely to follow.

“In certain places, we’ve driven down tobacco use prevalence enough that, politically, we can think about what do we need to do from here to get to zero,” Bostic said. “For a long time it was debated on a philosophical level, but in the last two years folks have tried to make it happen.”

Connecticut Senate gives final approval to raising tobacco age to 21, Gov. Ned Lamont plans to sign bill

The age to purchase tobacco in Connecticut could very soon be 21.

House Bill 7200 passed the Senate Friday by a 33-3 vote. The bill, which passed the House
earlier this month, covers cigarettes as well as other tobacco-related products such as
electronic cigarettes, vaping products and chewing tobacco.

Gov. Ned Lamont, who plans to sign the bill, praised the decision in a statement sent after
the bill’s passage. He said the new law reflects growing concerns about e-cigarettes and
decades of medical research showing the negative effects of tobacco.

“Some have pointed out that raising the age to 21 will result in a net revenue loss to the
state, but when it comes to the health of our young people we need to do what is right,”
Lamont said. “When I sign this into law, we will have taken an important step forward in
protecting the health of the youngest members of our communities.”

Local ordinances raising the tobacco age from 18 to 21 have already passed across the
state, including in cities such as Hartford. Lawmakers say they support the bill because 95
percent of smokers become addicted before they turn 21.

Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, recently graduated from Georgetown University and the 23-
year-old testified about the boom of the e-cigarette trend.

He worked at a convenience store in Washington, D.C. and said young people would
constantly come to buy Juul vapes when the store started selling them his senior year.

“They’re lured into this deadly habit under the guise of fruity flavors,” Haskell said.
Other Georgetown students, Haskell said, would even step out of class because they
couldn’t make it through a 50-minute lecture without needing to vape.

Before he voted against the bill, Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, said he opposed the
legislation because it was unfair to 18-year-olds who were considered adults under so many
other aspects of state law.

“I feel this bill in some ways is a triumph of emotion over reason,” he said.

He pointed out that 18-year-olds wouldn’t be able to legally smoke even though they were
considered adult enough to serve in the armed forces.

“I don’t want to blur what we consider to be an adult and a minor in the policies we pass in
this legislature,” Sampson said.

A Senate amendment that would have allowed service members under 21 to purchase
tobacco products failed.

Republican Sens. Gennaro Bizzarro of New Britain and John Kissel of Enfield also voted
against the bill.

For Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, the bill was a way to prevent others from making the
same decisions she did as a teen.

Cohen said she started smoking at 14 because she and her friends thought it sounded cool,
and she loved it from the very beginning.

Only when she became pregnant with her son 15 years later did she finally stop.
“It was the hardest thing I had ever had to do, and to this day I still miss smoking,” Cohen
said.

She said she sometimes feels like she could go back to it when she sees other people
around her smoking.

Cohen’s father died from lung cancer, she said. He started smoking when he was 12, and he
couldn’t quit when he learned of the health risks. It took his cancer diagnosis for him to
stop.

With a higher smoking age in the state, Cohen said she thinks fewer people will follow the
same path as her and her father.

“I wholeheartedly believe that this will most definitely save lives because we all know that
teenagers have lapses in judgment from time to time,” she said.

Around a dozen states have voted to raise the tobacco age to 21.

Tobacco 21 wins passage in Senate, heads to governor for signing

Connecticut is poised to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 with an overwhelming vote Friday in the state Senate endorsing the bill.

The measure won passage in the House earlier this month and now heads to Gov. Ned Lamont, who has pledged to sign it. The law would take effect in October.

The Senate voted 33-3 in favor of the proposal, with three Republicans dissenting.

“Increasing the age of being able to purchase tobacco products … is going to dramatically cut the number of young people who start smoking in our state,” said Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, a key backer of the measure. “It’s also going to dramatically cut the number of young people who start to use vaping products. As we’ve seen in recent years, those numbers are skyrocketing.”

Once signed into law, Connecticut will join 15 other states and hundreds of cities and towns that have passed similar legislation, including California, Maryland, Washington, Hawaii and most recently, New York.

This year, the State Board of Education released a report showing a six-fold increase in the number of suspensions and expulsions related to vaping over the prior year. The number of Connecticut high school students who used vaping products doubled from 2015 to 2017, according to a study released by the state Department of Public Health last fall. Overall, 14.7 percent of high school students reported “currently” vaping in 2017, compared to 7.2 percent in 2015.

Connecticut’s law would prohibit businesses from selling products such as cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco or pipe tobacco to people younger than 21. It also bans the sale of vaping products, which contain nicotine, to those under 21.

“Tobacco use in this country remains the leading cause of preventable deaths,” Flexer said. “Tobacco use kills more people in Connecticut each year than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, accidents, murders and suicides combined.”

Health advocates have praised the bill and said it mirrors legislation raising the age for purchase of tobacco products in eight Connecticut communities, including Hartford and Bridgeport.

The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services would be responsible for conducting unannounced compliance checks on e-cigarette dealers and referring violators to the Department of Revenue Services, which could impose penalties.

Under the proposal, the department could levy fines of up to $300 for a first offense; up to $750 for a second violation; and up to $1,000 for each subsequent offense. Fines for a second or subsequent violation apply within 24 months of the first offense.

The bill increases, from $50 to $200, the annual license fee for cigarette dealers. It also boosts the penalty for each day a cigarette dealer or distributor operates without a license to $50, up from $5.

Sen. Christine Cohen, who started smoking at age 14 and quit years later when she became pregnant, said lawmakers have “a responsibility to our youth.” The ordeal of kicking her cigarette habit was the toughest feat of her life, she said.

“It’s very hard to overcome,” Cohen said. “I’m hard pressed to think of another product on the market that has the known detrimental health risks and addictive qualities that tobacco has.”

Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, one of the few legislators to oppose the measure, tried unsuccessfully to push through an amendment that would have exempted those serving in the military. Sampson, who took up smoking at age 13, said that if people are old enough to defend the country, they should be able to buy tobacco.

“I agree minors should be restricted from purchasing cigarettes, but the term is minors,” he said. “I don’t want to blur what we consider to be an adult and a minor in the policies we pass. It is dangerous to do so.”

Anti-smoking advocates hailed the adoption.

“Connecticut lawmakers have demonstrated that they are committed to putting the health of our kids first,” said Kevin O’Flaherty, an advocacy director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids​​​​​​, a national nonprofit. “Studies show that increasing the sale age of all tobacco products – including electronic cigarettes – to 21 keeps children from getting access to these dangerous products. It’s our hope that [the legislation] will help us work toward the goal of eliminating tobacco use among our kids.”