In the decade since Illinois passed a law banning smoking in public places, the state has seen the youth smoking rate drop by more than 50%. Here in Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis is looking to make those numbers fall more.

In agreement with the Heart Association, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis will be proposing the T-21 initiative to the Liquor Commission Monday. A proposal that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

“Regardless of what the state of Illinois decides to do I think it’s important for us to show leadership and do this,” said Ardis. He adds, “We’re trying to get it out of the high schools and out of the younger kids age bracket.”

According to the American Heart Association, 1 of every 3 young smokers, will eventually die of a smoking-related illness or disease. Mayor Ardis hopes the ordinance would encourage a healthier lifestyle for people growing up in the river city.

“The revenue lost by those cigarette sales will be minimal compared to what the cost is to the community to treat these type of things.”

One business owner who’s been selling tobacco products in Peoria since 1951, isn’t keen on the idea.

“I don’t think it will solve any problems, youngsters inclined to smoke will just go outside the city borders to buy or they have friends old enough that will buy it for them, “ said Terry Beachler, of Beachler’s vehicle care & repair.

Mayor Ardis hopes to see the change take place within the next few months.