Cook County Tobacco 21 Ordinance
The Cook County Board of Commissioners amended the Cook County Youth Tobacco Control Ordinance (Ord. 14-1421), raising the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products from 18 to 21, effective June 1, 2019. While the State of Illinois also passed a Tobacco 21 law, all licensed tobacco retailers in unincorporated Cook County must comply with the Cook County Ordinance.
In an effort to improve understanding and ensure compliance with this new law, Cook County Department of Public Health, the state-certified public health authority for nearly all of suburban Cook County, has created a fact sheet and sample warning signage (available for download in two sizes: 8.5X11 and 11X17) for retailers operating within unincorporated Cook County.
Illinois Tobacco 21 Law
Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) officials would like to thank Governor Pritzker for signing HB345 into law – raising the minimum legal sales age to 21 for all tobacco products purchased in Illinois. This initiative, known as Tobacco 21, affects all tobacco retailers and residents in Illinois, and will go into effect on July 1, 2019. Illinois is the 10th state in the U.S. and first state in the Midwest to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and alternative nicotine products to any person under the age of 21. This is following local adoption by many communities in the state, who were ahead of the curve.
The Role of Public Health
CCDPH testified in support of passing this legislation at the state, county, and local levels; and partnered with municipalities throughout suburban Cook County (SCC) to pass local Tobacco 21 policies to protect SCC residents. These included: Arlington Heights, Berwyn, Elk Grove Village, Evanston, Hoffman Estates, Maywood, Oak Park, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Wilmette, and unincorporated Cook County. CCDPH will be working with SCC municipalities to raise awareness about the new Tobacco 21 law benefits and help with implementation before the law goes into effect July 1, 2019. As part of its Healthy HotSpot initiative, CCDPH promotes tobacco-free living in the places we live, work, learn, worship, play and receive healthcare.
Benefits Of Raising The Age To Buy Tobacco To 21
- Tobacco 21 Reduces Teen Access To Tobacco Products. Raising the age makes it less likely that those who can legally purchase tobacco are within teenagers’ social circles and also keeps tobacco out of schools.
- Tobacco 21 Lowers Smoking Rates. The Institute of Medicine projects that Tobacco 21 policies could reduce overall smoking by 12% by the time today’s teenagers become adults. The biggest declines in tobacco use would be seen among 15-17 year old (25%) and 18-20 year olds (15%).5
- Tobacco 21 Improves Overall Health. In addition to reducing the number of adolescents and young adults with adverse physiological effects (e.g., increased inflammation and impaired immune functioning) caused by smoking, raising the minimum legal age will also lessen the population’s exposure to secondhand smoke and its associated health effects.66