U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is among the federal lawmakers who want to raise the age for buying tobacco products to 21. Durbin says raising the tobacco-buying age from 18 will stop people from smoking, citing information from the National Institutes of Health that 95 percent of adult smokers picked up the habit before they turned 21.
Despite the numerous restrictions on tobacco products, Durbin says the companies which make them still hold some sway over members of Congress.
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"The tobacco industry hates me like the devil hates holy water," Durbin said. "They know I'm going to cost them money if something likes this goes through, but some states are already moving in this direction."
Durbin has a long history of proposing new regulations on tobacco, like his successful effort to ban smoking on commercial flights. But he thinks banning tobacco products entirely would be very difficult.
"It is an addiction, and some people desperately need tobacco products. I'm not sure they would know how to live day-to-day without them," Durbin said.
Hawaii became the first state to raise its tobacco age limit to 21 years last year. In Illinois, Evanston has prohibited tobacco sales to anyone under 21, and Durbin hopes to hear from local politicians about what's happened in the area since that restriction went into effect.