Arlington Heights may soon start regulating e-cigarettes the same as tobacco cigarettes, meaning they wouldn't be allowed in restaurants and other public spaces.
The village board later this month will vote whether to approve a legal change to the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance that would prohibit the use of electronic cigarette devices in public places and within 15 feet of the door. Monday's village board discussion came after a recommendation from the village's board of health.
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"E-cigarettes are an unregulated product with unknown health risks," according to a memo from the board of health. "The FDA will be regulating electronic cigarette devices; however, the adoption of these regulations will take time. In the meantime, until more studies are done concerning the effect of secondhand vaping of nicotine, the Board of Health believes it is important to protect the public's health and safety by imposing the same regulations for electronic cigarette devices as conventional cigarettes."
Health department head James McCalister and board of health officials cited studies about the vapors and chemicals in e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes may have lower levels of nicotine than regular cigarettes, they said, there is no proof to show they are healthy.
"The research on e-cigarettes is ongoing, so the thought was that we need to be cautious and conservative in that regard," Village Manager Bill Dixon said.
There are two stores in Arlington Heights that sell e-cigarettes.
Dixon said the village will be notifying restaurants and business owners of the change if and when the ordinance is formally changed.
"Not only is this logical, but from a parental point of view, it's nice to see that we're going to have continuity here that any kind of tobacco product will be regulated the same way," Trustee Joe Farwell said.
Communities that have already amended their ordinances to prohibit the use of electronic cigarette devices in public places include Chicago, Evanston, Carpentersville and Oak Park. Schaumburg, Bartlett, Hoffman Estates and Wilmette are considering similar ordinances, officials said.