Over the past 6 months, many of you personally met with dozens of lawmakers in your communities and in Springfield. RHA and advocates talked to lawmakers about Tobacco 21, clean energy jobs legislation and the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes. The impact of your visits, letters and emails can be felt in the many legislative initiatives that passed the Illinois Legislature this session.
Here’s an update on the tobacco control victories we achieved together!
Tobacco 21 Becomes Law in Illinois
After four years of advocacy efforts, Tobacco 21 was signed into law. The new law will take effect on July 1, 2019. In the past few years, we had over 150 in-person visits with lawmakers where we discussed Tobacco 21. Youth advocates, volunteers with COPD, special event participants and health professionals joined RHA staff for these visits. We also had monthly in-district visits with Advocacy Champions and volunteers thanking legislators who supported lung health policies during the 2018 session. Congratulations and thank you! Your personal stories, experiences and connections to this issue made a difference!
State Cigarette Tax to Increase by $1 per Pack
Raising the tobacco tax is one of the most effective tobacco prevention initiatives. To demonstrate support for a tobacco tax, RHA joined with partners to commission a poll that showed over 60% of Illinoisans support a tobacco tax. Increasing the Illinois cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack will generate $159.35 million in new annual revenue for the state as well as providing many health benefits:
- Reduce youth smoking by 11 percent.
- Prevent 28,700 kids under 18 from becoming adults who smoke.
- Help 48,700 adults who currently smoke quit.
- Prevent 21,000 premature smoking-caused deaths.
- Provide $1.56 billion in long-term health care cost savings from adult and youth smoking declines.
Illinois to Tax E-cigarettes
Consistent with the federal government, e-cigs are now defined by the state as tobacco products and will be subject to licensing requirements as a result of this legislation. E-cigarettes will now be taxed at 15% of wholesale price. This is a significant step because e-cig use is skyrocketing. Our polling also showed that 73% of Illinoisans support taxing e-cigarettes. We applaud the Illinois Legislature for adding a tax to these addictive products.
No Smoking in Motor Vehicles
There is no safe level of secondhand smoke, and young people, in particular, are susceptible to the dangers of inhaling secondhand smoke. Legislation passed this year that will make it illegal to smoke in cars with children in the vehicle. Illinois joins eight other states that currently offer protections from secondhand smoke for minors in vehicles
RHA Advocates for Federal Investment in Prevention
Respiratory Health Association joined partners in the public health community in supporting federal legislation that aims to restore funding to the Prevention and Public Health Fund. This bill would increase the funding level starting in FY2020. Investments in prevention provide a return on investment in health care savings and improved health outcomes.
Thank you for your continued support in reducing the deadly toll of tobacco in our community!