Illinois Governor vetoes bill to raise vaping age to 21
While it seems like age restrictions are a countrywide rule, each state in the U.S. actually has the power to set its own age limits on activities such as driving, getting married, drinking alcohol, and purchasing tobacco. When it comes to tobacco, most states have stuck with 18, but several have raised the minimum age to 19, and five states (California, Hawaii, Oregon, New Jersey, and Maine) have set the limit at 21.
A bill to raise the Illinois smoking age to 21 was introduced earlier this year. While the bill passed the house with just one vote to spare, it was vetoed by the current governor, Bruce Rauner, who cited the possible unintended effects of people purchasing cigarettes illegally or crossing state borders to do so. The smoking age in Illinois will remain set at 18.
The minimum smoking age and vaping products
Although tobacco products are usually the primary targets of bids to raise the smoking age, vaping products are usually included, as well. The failed bill in Illinois named vaping products alongside cigarettes and other tobacco devices as products to be restricted to those 21 and older.
The motive behind such policies is to reduce the number of lifetime smokers by cutting off the critical age where many lifelong smokers first pick up the habit. It is also to limit the concern around 18 year olds still being in high school (and giving cigarettes to their underage friends). And while it makes sense to restrict certain products to various age groups, the jump from 18 to 21 for tobacco and vaping products specifically has never been shown to actually lower the rate of underage smokers. And given the relative youth of vaping products, there is no data to suggest a higher minimum age for vaping would lead to the desired result of lower smoking rates.
The future for Illinois
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is nothing new. The idea of raising the smoking age to 21 has been floating around for decades. It seems to be gaining steam, though, and while the campaign focuses largely on traditional cigarettes, vaping products are usually caught up in the resulting legislation either intentionally or due to ignorance about the differences between vaping devices and traditional tobacco products.
It is not clear if the veto in Illinois can be overturned given the slim victory margin it enjoyed in the House.