Fearing that electronic cigarettes pose health risks, Streamwood officials plan to ban the sale of the controversial product to minors before a similar state law takes effect next year.
The village board introduced the proposed rules Thursday night. Without the measure, juveniles found with the battery-powered devices would face criminal charges when the state law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
Streamwood's rules, though, would allow police to cite anyone younger than 18 in possession of electronic cigarettes with violating village code. Those cases would be handled by the village's adjudication court, instead of a circuit court judge.
"It's much less adversarial," Village Manager Gary O'Rourke said.
Streamwood would join Hanover Park, Schaumburg and other northwest suburbs that now treat electronic cigarettes like the conventional kind. The handheld devices turn a liquid solution into vapor, usually releasing nicotine. The industry argues they are a safer alternative to tobacco products.
But officials fear youngsters could develop a nicotine addition.
The village decided to take a look at restrictions after Student Government Day in May, when Streamwood High School students raised concerns about the popularity of so-called vaping during a mock village board meeting, O'Rourke said.
The measure also would enable the village to keep track of what retailers sell the products. By the village's count, there are only a handful.
Those businesses would need to secure a village license that allows the sale of electronic cigarettes, tobacco products or liquid nicotine.
The village's adjudication court would have the power to charge fines for first-time offenders.
Tougher penalties could mean the suspension or loss of a license for store owners who commit a second offense within a year.
The village board is expected to vote on the rules at its next meeting Sept. 4.