To the Editor:
Many of us turned to vapor after years of smoking because we had enough. Today, a push for Tobacco 21 legislation in Springfield over the next few weeks threatens to not only make it easier for youth to smoke without punishment, but could take away the very vapor alternatives that have helped so many end a costly, painful addiction.
Senate Bill 2332 is aimed at curbing youth smoking by raising the purchase age for tobacco products to 21 in Illinois, up from 18. What will actually happen is youth will simply turn to other states or the black market to get their smokes, because while we’re increasing the smoking purchase age, we’re also no longer making it a crime to smoke if you’re under 21. Think about what that will mean for youth smoking.
Making it worse, the bill also includes vapor products in the purchase ban. So adults age 18-20 who see the research that vapor products are 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes, and know that their friends and family members have successfully quit or cut back on smoking since starting to vape and think it could work for them, can’t without breaking the law under SB 2332.
Smoking rates are at all-time lows and falling, and even the Federal Drug Administration recognizes that “nicotine lives at the core of both the problem and, ultimately, the solution to the question of addiction, and the harm caused by combustible forms of tobacco.” Vaping is a key part of the solution, and Illinois should be making it easier for young adults to vape their way out of addiction. Vote No on SB 2332 to reduce tobacco use in Illinois.
President, Smoke Free Alternatives Coalition of Illinois