Senators override Tobacco 21 veto, send to House

Lawmakers in the House could soon decide to raise the age limit for buying tobacco products to 21 despite a veto from the governor.

The Senate approved the bill Wednesday with enough votes to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto. It goes to the House next.

The measure passed both chambers in the spring, Rauner vetoed it.

The governor said that a Tobacco 21 law would just send smokers elsewhere to buy tobacco products rather than reducing the number of people who use it.

“Raising the age people can purchase tobacco products will push residents to buy tobacco products from non-licensed vendors or in neighboring states,” the governor wrote in his veto message.

Proponents of the measure said tobacco contains toxic chemicals and known carcinogens. They say it leads to increased public health costs.

State Sen. Dan McConchie opposed the override attempt. He said 18-year-olds already have adult responsibilities.

“You can marry,” he said. “You can have children that you’re financially responsible for. You can buy property. You can borrow money that you can’t afford to pay back. You can even decide who should be governor of the state of Illinois or should be president of the United States but you are not wise enough to be able to determine whether or not to buy and use this particular product.”

Other opponents had said the measure is nonsensical given that 18-year-olds can volunteer to serve and die for their country in the military.

State Sen. Michael Hastings, a veteran himself, dismissed that notion. He said a four-star general told him the military isn’t meeting its recruitment goals and this will help.

“The senior-most military member in our entire country last week stated to me that obesity and health-related issues are one of the No. 1 reasons why we are not able to meet the recruiting mission to the United States Army”

Despite objections, the measure passed with enough votes to override the governor’s veto. It now heads to the House. Veto session runs through the end of the month.

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November 14, 2018