Those who want to increase the legal age for buying or possessing tobacco products to 21 in Illinois communities may soon learn if the Island Lake village board is an ally or foe.
Trustees on Thursday will debate boosting the legal age for buying cigarettes in town to 21, from 18. Officials also will discuss whether to make 21 the legal age for possessing cigarettes and other tobacco products in town.
Under state law, the minimum age to buy or possess cigarettes and other tobacco products is 18. But municipalities can set the threshold higher.
Island Lake Mayor Charles Amrich said he put the issue on the agenda for Thursday's meeting because other suburbs -- including Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire and Vernon Hills -- have raised the minimum age.
He also was inspired by a recent conversation with Wauconda Unit School District 118 Superintendent Daniel Coles, who voiced concern about youths using electronic cigarettes.
Amrich said he favors increasing the minimum age for buying tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Such a change would affect about 10 Island Lake retailers, Amrich said.
"Cigarettes aren't good for you. I think we all know that," he said. "If we can stop one person from smoking cigarettes, we've won."
But at least three of the board's six trustees oppose changing the minimum age.
Eighteen-year-olds can vote, join the military and live independently, Trustee Mark Beeson said, and they should be able to smoke cigarettes, too.
"It just seems a little weird," Beeson said.
Trustee John Burke doesn't believe increasing the legal purchasing age will keep younger people from smoking.
"If they want to smoke, they're going to do it anyway," he said.
Burke also doesn't want to take revenue away from local businesses.
That's why Trustee Sandy Doehler opposes a change.
"I've spoken to several business owners in the village that sell tobacco products ... (and) there is no doubt this change would hurt their businesses," Doehler said.
Doehler believes the smoking age should be set by state lawmakers so it's consistent across all Illinois communities.
"And even then I don't believe it will prevent those who really want to smoke from doing so," she said.
Thursday's board meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave.
A final decision isn't expected Thursday. If trustees take action, it would be to ask their attorney to prepare an ordinance that could be reviewed and voted upon in December, Village Clerk Georgine Cooper said.