The Daily Illini

Letter to the Editor: Illinois should raise age for tobacco sales

By Megha Mathur

When the University became smoke-free a few years ago, we made our school healthier, more inclusive and greener. But it’s time for the state of Illinois to take the next step in improving campus health by raising the age of tobacco sales to 21 years old.

Raising the age would be better for students’ physical health, even if they aren’t smokers. Everyone knows that tobacco use causes cancer and other serious health problems, but students who choose not to smoke can still develop lung cancer, heart disease and difficulty breathing when exposed to secondhand smoke.

For students with asthma or other health problems, secondhand smoke is even more serious. Tobacco is one of the most common asthma triggers, so it’s potentially life-threatening for some students to be around cigarette smoke. We can be more inclusive to students with these health issues by ensuring they’re not exposed to anything that would worsen them.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about a quarter of all college students still use tobacco. That might not surprise you, if you’ve noticed the cigarette butts littering the sidewalks both on and off campus. But did you know that cigarettes are the most littered item in the U.S.?

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable, so that waste will always stay with the earth. And when cigarettes get into our water supply or are ingested by animals, we’re causing real, long-term damage to our environment. Raising the tobacco sale age to 21 years old would reduce college students’ environmental impact and make our campus and community healthier.

I want to leave the world better than it was when I inherited it. So I’m asking our state lawmakers to raise the age of tobacco sales to 21 years old. If you’d like to get involved with this effort, contact Colleges Against Cancer at [email protected]

Megha Mathur is a senior at the University. 

[email protected]