Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced an initiative that would raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 21. It also includes more taxes on tobacco products such as cigars and smokeless tobacco which would bring in an extra $6 million for Chicago public schools.
The initiative is being met with praise by anti-smoking groups.
“Young adulthood is a critical age for smoking initiation,” said Joel J. Africk, President and Chief Executive Officer of Respiratory Health Association in a news release. “We know that 95% of smokers start before age 21, so raising the age would limit their access and keep the products out of the hands of high school students.”
Evanston is the only community in Illinois which has raised the age to buy tobacco, which is currently 18 under state law. The state of Hawaii also recently raised the smoking age, the first state to do so, as have 115 communities across the U.S. according to RHA.