On April 7, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed P.A. 101-002 into law. This landmark legislation makes Illinois the 11th state to enact what has become known as “Tobacco 21 law.” The law takes effect on July 1, 2019. This legislation is not a novel concept to Illinois municipalities. Before its enactment, more than 30 Illinois municipalities had adopted ordinances to raise the local minimum legal sales age to 21.
The bill amends various state statutes regarding tobacco to raise the legal age to 21 for the purchase or sale of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and alternative nicotine products. The law also provides a formal definition for electronic cigarettes to include electronic nicotine delivery systems, whether or not the solution contains nicotine.
For those who may have been following the legislation from its introduction, the law remains substantively similar, but the few changes it imposes have come with sharp criticism. One criticism is that the law focuses on the sale or purchase of tobacco or alternative products by persons under 21 but not the possession of those products. That means that municipal ordinances could regulate different conduct (i.e., possession by underage persons in addition to sale and purchase) than the state law will regulate once the law becomes effective.
Because municipal ordinances may currently regulate conduct based on the previous age minimum of 18, municipalities might consider updating their ordinances to be consistent with state law.
Post Authored by Dan Bolin & Julie Tappendorf