Editorial: Raise the age to buy tobacco and vaping products

Many American teens wouldn’t dream of lighting up a cigarette. They know that tobacco smoking is an easily acquired and often deadly habit. Too many, however, shrug off companion health warnings and fire up e-cigarettes instead.

Now Illinois lawmakers are poised to make that harder by raising to 21 from 18 the legal age to buy tobacco or e-cigarette products. The Illinois Senate has approved a measure on a 35-20 vote; the proposal now moves to the House.

We urge lawmakers to vote yes, and Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the bill into law.

This is not a Nanny State overreach into the personal habits of Illinoisans. It’s a smart way to help some unknowable percentage of young people from decisions that they and their families would regret for decades to come.

We’re sure that lawmakers hear many of the same arguments against this proposal that we have: 18-year-olds serve in the military and vote, why can’t they buy cigarettes or e-cigarettes? We say no for the same reason that we supported a statewide ban on smoking in public places a decade ago. Because it’s a public health imperative that yields huge benefits. Anyone miss those smoky restaurants? Anyone?

April 27, 2018

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