Barrington raises age to purchase tobacco, vaping products
Barrington village board members Monday night approved raising the minimum age for buying tobacco and vaping products such as electronic cigarettes to 21 from 18.
Village Manager Jeff Lawler said the ordinance amendment will take effect in early November. Barrington's new local law won't cover possession of tobacco or vaping products -- such as e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine without tobacco -- by adults younger than 21.
Before Monday's vote, four Barrington High School seniors spoke in favor of raising the age to make it more difficult for their peers to buy tobacco and vaping products.
The teenagers belong to Broncos Committed, which is a schoolwide wellness initiative promoting healthy lifestyle habits by students such as proper sleep, good nutrition and avoidance of alcohol and drugs.
Steven Fischer, a swimmer and water polo player, told the village board that Juul is a common vaping device for Barrington High students. Juul is shaped like a USB flash drive and heats liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor sold in fruity or mint flavors.
"So a lot of kids in class use them, and teachers don't even know what's going on," Fischer said.
"You have to plug them in to charge them, so kids can plug them in during class with computers, and teachers don't even know what it is, so they're able to use these in very public spaces."
Barrington High student assistance coordinator Amy Winkelman, a Broncos Committed sponsor, presented vaping data from a student survey on teens' 30-day use rate to the board. She said vaping has increased since 2016.
"And what's alarming is one out of five 10th-graders report using e-cigarettes and nearly one in three of our seniors are reporting e-cigarette use in the past 30 days," Winkelman said.
Although Illinois law puts the minimum age to buy or possess tobacco and vaping products at 18, municipalities and counties can set the threshold higher.
Gov. Bruce Rauner in August vetoed a bill to raise the legal sales age of tobacco products to 21.
According to health experts, people who haven't used tobacco by age 21 are unlikely to start.
Moreover, research shows increasing the minimum age to 21 could reduce premature deaths and preterm births.
In part, Barrington's ordinance amendment cites concern over the use of tobacco and alternative nicotine products by preteens, teenagers and young adults.
The document says such use has "reached epidemic proportions nationwide and also constitutes a local public health crisis affecting the public health, safety and welfare of the village and its residents."
Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire, Elk Grove Village, Mundelein and Vernon Hills are among the villages that have hiked the minimum age.