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updated: 12/16/2013 7:56 AM

Mount Prospect considers e-cigarettes ban for minors

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A state law prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors goes into effect Jan. 1.

Mount Prospect, however, is entertaining the possibility of a local ordinance that goes a step further by also outlawing their possession by those under 18.

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Village board members discussed the issue during a recent update from the police department on how new state laws will impact local law enforcement.

Sgt. Tim Griffin, who made the presentation, said there is concern about minors using the electronic cigarettes, which are battery-powered devices that utilize a heating element to vaporize a solution that either contains nicotine and flavorings or just flavorings.

Griffin said the police department is suggesting a local ordinance to prohibit minors from having e-cigarettes.

Mayor Arlene Juracek said the product already is being sold in Mount Prospect, and Village Manager Michael Janonis said there is a "vapor shop" in town.

Trustee Paul Hoefert said at some point the addictive nicotine in the electronic cigarettes will have to be dealt with by state and federal governments.

"Because what makes a cigarette bad? The fact that it creates a health issue down the road, because of the smoke, or the addiction. So if you take the smoke out it, you have eliminated some percentage of the bad part of the cigarette," he said. "But with these e-cigarettes, you still have the nicotine in there, which is a bad element."

Juracek said it has been suggested that "even some of these vapors are potential carcinogens. And then you get the whole idea of the gateway" to smoking real cigarettes.

Trustee Steven Polit said if he chose, he could go into a pharmacy, buy a "strawberry straw" and go out into cold weather exhaling a vapor that would act in the same way as an electronic cigarette with a strawberry flavoring.

"So I think we're starting to draw some bizarre lines between what we should enforce and what we shouldn't enforce as being illegal," he said.

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