Tobacco 21 Press Statement

Ronald Johnson, MD, FAAFP – Pittsfield
Past President
February 18, 2016

Family physicians across Illinois applaud SB 3011 and thank Sen. John Mulroe for sponsoring this important piece of legislation. Raising the purchase age to 21 will reduce tobacco use and addiction, especially among young people.

As a family physician, I care for many teenagers and young adults. They are still developing physically, and emotionally, and their brains are still developing as well. It’s a crucial period where choices are made and habits are formed. If we can guide them through these late teens and into their 20s without a nicotine addiction, it’s more likely they will never become tobacco users.

Illinois college campuses are already smoke free – so let’s send our students to college without the ability to purchase tobacco products that only cause them harm and can’t be used on campus.
Kansas City, Cleveland, Boston, New York City and the entire state of Hawaii have already passed tobacco 21 laws. Others are considering legislation. Meanwhile the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps are on record supporting Tobacco 21, as they want their personnel to stay healthy. We are supporting our troops by passing this bill. There is nothing patriotic about tobacco use or selling these products to 18-20 year olds.

A 2015 Institute of Medicine report predicts that raising the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products to 21 will, over time, reduce the smoking rate by about 12 percent and smoking-related deaths by 10 percent.
The study further estimates that Tobacco 21 would reduce smoking among 15-17 year olds by 25 percent and among 18-20 year olds by 15 percent. That’s a lot of kids we can save at no cost to the state!

Illinois has made tremendous progress in cutting youth smoking rates. By taking this next step, we can help today’s kids make the transition to tobacco-free adults. As a result, they’ll suffer fewer illnesses, reduce their risk of deadly diseases and enjoy a healthier future. We are ready to help all our young patients quit tobacco for good! Family physicians support tobacco 21 and ask all our legislators to vote yes.