Arlington Heights raises tobacco sale age to 21

 
 
Posted1/8/2019 5:38 AM
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  • Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said the village board's approval of raising the tobacco sale age to 21 is timely because of the prevalence of vaping among high school students.

      Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said the village board's approval of raising the tobacco sale age to 21 is timely because of the prevalence of vaping among high school students. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, February 2017

Arlington Heights on Monday became the latest town to hike the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, joining a list of 32 other Illinois communities that have enacted similar measures.

The ordinance, approved on an 8-0 vote of the village board, formally takes effect in 10 days, but the police department plans to begin enforcement in 30 days after sending letters to local retailers notifying them of the change, according to Village Manager Randy Recklaus.

Mayor Tom Hayes called the ordinance "worthwhile and needed," referencing the board's earlier interview Monday night with new youth commission member Grace Baldino, who said vaping has become a big issue among students at Prospect High School.

"It's very timely that we're doing this tonight," Hayes said. "I think it's the right thing to do for the health of our community."

The new rules make it illegal for any retailer to sell tobacco, electronic smoking devices or vaping products to those under 21, though the village isn't also prohibiting possession of tobacco products by the same age group. Only Lake Zurich and Deerfield so far have passed laws doing so.

Also Monday, Des Plaines aldermen voiced their support to raise the tobacco sale age in an 8-0 first reading vote, with a final vote to come Jan. 22.

Arlington Heights joins other Northwest suburbs, including Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village and Hoffman Estates, that already have increased the tobacco age. Votes by more and more local boards have come in recent months after Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto in July of a statewide ban on sales to those under 21, but supporters say they plan to try again after Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is sworn in next week.

"More than 30 municipalities have implemented Tobacco 21, and we're starting to see really great results," said Julie Mirostaw, director of government relations for the American Heart Association in Illinois. "I think Arlington Heights can be the next city to set a really great example."

Mirostaw's organization was among those to come before the village board at a committee of the whole meeting last month when trustees first discussed the issue. Other groups that lobbied the board included Buffalo Grove-based Link Together Coalition, which works to fight teen alcohol and drug use in Wheeling Township, and students from Stevenson High School's Catalyst club, who already persuaded boards in Lincolnshire, Vernon Hills and Buffalo Grove to increase the sale age.

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