Naperville City Council members took a stand against sales of e-cigarettes to people younger than 18, and they could move to restrict possession of the vaping devices by minors and use of them indoors at public places.
The council on Tuesday night added a category for alternative nicotine products to the city's tobacco code. The move means e-cigarettes can no longer be sold to anyone younger than 18 in Naperville, and any business that sells e-cigarettes now has to get a $200 annual tobacco dealer's license.
These regulations already are state law, but Mike DiSanto, deputy legal director, said adding them to the local code gives Naperville police more latitude to decide whether an offender should be punished under local ordinance or prosecuted more harshly under state law.
The local ordinance updated Tuesday comes with a minimum fine of $75 and a maximum fine of $750 for a fourth offense in a year. Punishment also can include required attendance at a tobacco education or awareness program and up to 30 hours of community service.
Council members unanimously approved the new restrictions on e-cigarette sales.
"I could not come down harder against this, against underage possession and against e-cigarettes," council member John Krummen said.
The council, with six new members, did an about face from the opinion of those on the panel last month about the potential of prohibiting indoor e-cigarette use and possession by people younger than 18.
Previous council members had concerns about enforcing a regulation on underage possession.
But on Tuesday, new members directed city employees to draft a potential regulation to add e-cigarettes to the city's smoke-free ordinance, which would ban minors from having the devices and forbid people from using them indoors in public places such as restaurants.
Several council members said they support an indoor ban on e-cigarette use, but council member Paul Hinterlong said he would want to hear from restaurant operators and the business community before enacting such a ban. Public input will be possible at a later meeting once a staff report is complete.
Rebecca Boyd-Obarski said her concern about allowing people younger than 18 to have e-cigarettes relates to the potential "cool" factor and the health risks possibly posed by chemicals such as nicotine and formaldehyde, which commonly are used in the solutions vaped with e-cigarettes.
"We're also seeing in some of that research is that we are allowing, and maybe giving a pathway, for our children to think smoking is cool," Boyd-Obarski said.