Some municipalities in central Illinois are not waiting for Illinois to become the sixth state in the nation to stop merchants from selling tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and alternative cigarette products to people under the age of 21.

The Illinois Senate passed Tobacco 21 on April 25 and it was sent to the House Rules Committee on April 26 where it remains.

In a nutshell, Tobacco 21 prohibits the legal sale of tobacco products or vaping materials in Illinois to 21. The bill makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a person who is under 21 years of age to use a false or forged identification card or to get tobacco or e-cigarette products. The bill eliminates the penalty for possession of a cigar, cigarette, smokeless tobacco, or tobacco in any of its forms by persons under 18 years of age.

Municipal trailblazers

Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, chief sponsor of the bill, said Tobacco 21 was brought to the General Assembly “in the last couple of years, but the General Assembly has not been able to build up enough steam to make it all the way to the governor’s desk.” Morrison said this time there is a coalition of health care providers and advocacy groups backing the bill.

“This is a personal issue for me,” said Morrison. “I have a lot of communities in my district that have already, as I believe already Peoria has, approved local ordinances and raised the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products.