Metro-East News

You can't buy cigarettes in this Illinois city unless you're 21

Peoria teens will have to wait to buy tobacco products under a new ordinance passed Tuesday.

The Peoria City Council approved moving the legal age to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. The council voted 8-3 Tuesday night to approve the ordinance, which takes effect in 10 days. The rule eliminates penalties for possession of tobacco by minors, however, according to the Peoria Journal-Star.

Peoria is not the first to change the age of legal tobacco purchase: Evanston, Chicago, Naperville and Mundelein also forbid people under age 21 from buying tobacco.

At least one councilman said he was opposed not because he didn’t want the law, but because he felt it should take place at the state level instead.

Advocate Katie Jones told the council that the earlier people start to smoke, the more likely they are to be smokers for life. She said the smoking rate among young people has dropped by one-third in the cities that raised the smoking age to 21, according to Peoria Public Radio.

The federal Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 3,200 teenagers under age 18 smoke their first cigarette every day, and another 2,100 become daily smokers. However, current smoking has declined among young people, with a 15-percent drop in high school smokers from 2011 to 2016.

However, e-cigarettes and hookahs are on the rise, with middle-school e-cigarette use quadrupling from 2011 to 2016 and by nearly 10 times for high-schoolers. Approximately 20 percent of high school students admit trying tobacco. The CDC states t hat young people may be more sensitive to nicotine and can feel dependent sooner than those who begin smoking as adults.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald