Attendees at an Evanston Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition meeting Wednesday voted unanimously to urge the City Council to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21.

The vote came after they heard a talk by the head of the Division of Cardiology at Northshore University HealthSystem, Dr. Timothy A. Sanborn, who cited statistics from Needham, Mass., that saw cigarette usage among high school students decline dramatically after it raised the age in 2005.

Dr. Sanborn at coalition meeting Wednesday

In anticipation of pushback from cigarette retailers, Dr. Sanborn noted that only 2 percent of cigarette sales are to persons in the 18-21 age range and that any revenue loss to the city from taxes on cigarettes would be eclipsed by a reduction in health care costs to the community.

Bill Geiger, a member of the Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board and longtime president and CEO of the McGaw YMCA, said at the meeting, held at ETHS, that “the potential impact this can have on the health of the community is substantial.”

The coalition, whose mission is to increase the health of Evanston youth by addressing and preventing the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, was told by Dr. Sanborn that tobacco is the entry-level substance by youth that typically precedes later use of alcohol and drugs.

Limiting access to tobacco products, he said, has been particularly effective in communities that have tried it. New York City joined the movement in May, but it has been slow to catch on in Illinois.

Evanston has been a leader in anti-smoking efforts, he said, in that it was one of the first communities in the state to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, and he sees the raising of the minimum age from 18 to 21 to be “an opportunity to reduce one of the most important health risks in the United States.”

Earlier story:

Report urges 21 as minimum age for tobacco sales

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

Join the Conversation


    1. It is my thought that EPD

      It is my thought that EPD should be focusing more on getting guns off our streets than catching an individual (18-21) buying tobacco.

      Likewise, it is my thought that this group should be more concern with the increase in establishments serving alcohol within our community.  Smokers most often do the greatest harm to themselves.  Drunks most often hurt others, inaddition to themselves.

  1. Females Only

    Since "Males 18 through 25 are required to register" for the Draft they should be allowed to purchase tobacco at AGE 18 should they want to. Age for women should be at least 21.

    1. I deeply respect the service

      I deeply respect the service our military men and women do for our country as well as the sacrifices they sometimes have to make in terms of loss of life or limb.

      So why wouldn’t we want to protect them from the health risks from smoking including the chance of dying from heart attacks, stroke, cancer and chronic lung disease?

      — Timothy A. Sanborn MD, MS, FAHA, FACC


  2. Excellent decision! Let’s

    Excellent decision! Let's hand out drivers licenses to children at 16, let young men and women go to war and vote for our public officials at 18, but please, please, please don't let my children purchase tobacco or alcohol until they're 21. I'm too busy with work, and watching my portfolio grow to take time out to be a good parent and talk my children about the dangers of tobacco and alcohol use. Thank you for making my job easier. 

    Also, I think I saw someone trying to get into the Evanston Dog Beach without a pass, could you guys look into that before you start worrying about the string of robberies and shootings lately? 


Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *