Elk Grove Village might join a growing list of suburbs banning the indoor use of electronic cigarettes at public places.
Village officials have proposed treating the devices the same as regular cigarettes, which have been prohibited from use indoors in the village since 2007 -- a year before a statewide smoking ban went into effect.
Now a majority of village trustees are in favor of extending the ban to electronic cigarettes, which have grown in popularity among smokers, in some cases as a way to kick the habit.
The handheld devices contain a liquid solution that includes propylene glycol, a chemical that might cause dry eyes and irritation in upper respiratory airways, according to a report compiled by village staff for trustees.
Mayor Craig Johnson said even though research is preliminary, officials are concerned about the potential health risks of vapors emitted from electronic cigarettes. There are some reports that indicate electronic cigarettes can be used to inhale vaporized marijuana, he added.
"We're going to err on the side of safety," Johnson said.
The proposed village ban on indoor use of electronic cigarettes would also prohibit using the devices within 15 feet of doorway entrances.
During a workshop meeting last week, trustees voted 4-2 in a straw poll in support of the proposed restrictions. A formal ordinance is expected to be considered at the Sept. 9 village board meeting.
Trustee Jeff Franke said the proposal arose from a discussion at the village judiciary, planning and zoning committee about prohibiting the sale, purchase and possession of the devices by minors -- which all committee members were agreeable to. But he said he thinks the village would be premature in banning electronic cigarettes completely, before more research is done into the effects of secondhand vapors.
"I know people that have quit and used these. They've tried different things -- patches and pills -- and I think I'd rather have some of these things out there that would be able to help these people kicking the habit," Franke said. "I like to treat people like they're knowledgeable adults and make their choices on where they want to go and if a product is legal, whether they want to do it or not."
Trustee Chris Prochno also said she believes there need to be more information on the topic before the village bans the devices.
Other municipalities that have banned the use of electronic cigarettes in public places include Arlington Heights, Carpentersville, Chicago, Evanston, Oak Park and Schaumburg.