IN THIS ISSUE:
This week in Springfield lawmakers advanced legislation to restrict sales of tobacco and advanced legislation that attempts to provide relief to the opioid crisis.
Legislation to increase the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 years of age to 21 years of age advanced out of committees in both chambers this week. IRMA testified in opposition at both hearings. Advocates predict the increase will lead to a decrease in the ability of teens to obtain cigarettes noting that teens get most of their cigarettes from social sources (i.e. friends and family members). However, there is a large contradiction in the legislative proposals that tell teens it is okay to have and use cigarettes because both proposals eliminate existing penalties for possession of cigarettes.
Under current law, someone under 18 years of age who is in possession of cigarettes can face the following penalties:
- A $50 fine and 25 hours of community service for the first offense;
- A $75 fine and 50 hours of community service for a second offense in a 12-month period;
- A $200 fine and 50 hours of community service for a third offense in a 12-month period.
- Additionally, a court may, at its discretion, and upon recommendation of the State’s Attorney, order that a minor and his/her parent(s) or legal guardian(s) attend a smoker’s education or youth diversion program. Such participation is credited against the community services.
If HB 4297 (Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Oak Park) or SB 2332 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D- Deerfield) is enacted in their current forms, all of these provisions would be stricken meaning teens are free to possess and use cigarettes.
Proponents argued that these penalties are not currently enforced so they should be removed. However, teen smoking rates are trending down significantly nationwide without laws like these. We all drive through school zones where students are standing across the street openly consuming cigarettes. Imagine how much lower teen smoking rates would go if current law was enforced? It calls into the question why a new law is needed if a current law is not being enforced?
There is also the significant sales shift that occurs even as Illinois retailers struggle to increase sales to pay for current costs, additional cost mandates by state and local governments, anticipated additional mandates by state and local governments, and the fact that Illinois’ population loss means retailers are trying to sell more to fewer consumers yet costs – artificially imposed by government and otherwise – show no signs of abating.
Both bills now proceed to the floors of their respective chambers for additional consideration.
The Senate Executive Committee successfully advanced SB 336 SCA#1 (Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park) which amends the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (“Act) to allow individuals who have been prescribed opioids for a medical condition to apply for a temporary medical cannabis card.
Those that apply for a temporary medical cannabis card would be exempt from the fingerprinting and background check requirements in the Act. Additionally, SB 336 requires an expedited approval or denial of an application within 14 days.
The legislation proceeds to the Senate floor for further consideration.
BUSINESS DAY SPEAKER
Jim Vandehei, co-founder and CEO of Axios and co-founder and former CEO of POLITICO, will be keynote the opening luncheon of Business Day 2018 on Wednesday, May 9th in Springfield. In 2017, Vanity Fair listed Vandehei among the 100 most powerful ‘Information Age’ thinkers while Entrepreneur magazine named him one of 2017’s “50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs”. Exercising his entrepreneurial background and long history covering politics in Washington, D.C., Mr. Vandehei will pull back the curtain and address what audiences really need to know about the White House, Congress, politics, and the media. Mark your calendars now to attend Business Day 2018 on Wednesday, May 9th in Springfield!