Lincolnshire officials are considering increasing the minimum age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products in town from 18 to 21.
The proposal follows a presentation from the Lake County Health Department. Studies indicate raising the age to 21 could reduce teen smoking, improve the health of residents and reduce associated medical costs.
If approved, the change would apply to the sale of tobacco products, electronic smoking devices and related accessories. It wouldn't change the legal age for possession of such items, which is 18.
Lincolnshire Trustee Dan Servi said increasing the purchasing age is more effective than changing the possession age at the local level.
"Enforcement of possession would be difficult, if not outright unfair, to people traveling between communities with different laws," Servi said. "(If) the law is changed at the state level, it should cover both."
Trustee Tom McDonough flatly opposes the proposal, however.
"I am not in favor of creating a patchwork of municipalities with different age limitations," he said. "This should be taken up in Springfield and not at a municipality level."
Trustees were scheduled to vote on the proposal this week, but a decision was delayed because three of the village board's six members were absent from Monday's meeting. A vote now is expected June 12.
Lincolnshire Police Chief Joe Leonas said increasing the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes to 21 won't impact police enforcement tactics.
Only four local merchants would be affected, he said: three gas stations and a pharmacy.
Leonas voiced support for a statewide shift to 21.
"It would be easier for everyone, as opposed to having different rules in effect from one town to another," he said.
Chicago, Naperville, Highland Park and Deerfield are among the communities that have raised the minimum age for tobacco purchases in the last year or so. Deerfield also raised the minimum age for possession to 21.
Other suburban government agencies considering such a change include the Lake County and Kane County boards and the Vernon Hills village board.
Vernon Hills Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer said he agreed with the proposal in principle but noted that changing the minimum age to buy cigarettes wouldn't solve anything unless possession of smoking materials by people under 21 also is prohibited.
"At this stage, it seems like a feel-good ordinance," he said at a recent Vernon Hills village board meeting.
Daily Herald Staff Writer Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.