Buffalo Grove raises age to buy tobacco to 21

Buffalo Grove village officials have raised the minimum age for the sale and purchase of tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21, amid disagreement among trustees over whether the change would be effective.

The ordinance passed Monday by the village board doesn't apply to the possession of tobacco.

In raising the limit, the board went against the unanimous recommendation of the village's health commission, which opposed the change at a meeting Aug. 9. Trustee Joanne Johnson, liaison to the commission, said commissioners felt the ordinance would have no effect and that a change in the state law is needed.

Trustees Andrew Stein, David Weidenfeld and Lester Ottenheimer III supported the measure, while Trustees Jeffrey Berman and Johnson opposed it. A second vote needed after the motion was amended to delay implementation for 120 days was passed unanimously.

In debating the ordinance, some board members said it was a step toward reducing tobacco use by young people, while others argued 18- to 20-year-olds will simply go to another suburb to buy cigarettes.

Berman said he's "no friend of tobacco" but stressed the ordinance won't stop young people from smoking because state law allows people 18 years old and older to smoke.

"All this ordinance would do is prohibit our local businesses from selling otherwise lawful products to people who can lawfully possess and consume them, placing those businesses at a disadvantage, and potentially drive away other forms of commerce," he said.

Village President Beverly Sussman, who did not have a vote, spoke in favor of the measure and compared it to the village board's vote to ban smoking in restaurants.

"And that could have been a tremendous loss of revenue to our village, to restaurant owners. But they knew that that was in the best interests of the residents and of the people for our health, safety and welfare. And they decided to do that, and they took a giant step by doing that, and it worked out just fine," she said.

Before Monday's vote, the board heard a presentation supporting the Tobacco 21 agenda by members of Catalyst, a group of area high school students dedicated to alcohol and drug prevention. The group noted use of e-cigarettes is on the rise.

"Electronic cigarettes are basically big tobacco's comeback. They're saying that this is a new product, but they are using the same marketing tactics," said Ananya Pati, a Stevenson High School student. "It still has harmful chemicals."

Danielle Ryan, a Lake County community health specialist, said 2 percent of tobacco sales nationally come from the group of 18- to 21-year-olds.

"Youth are not purchasing from retailers," Ryan said. "They're being supplied from those that are 18 and 19 years old. So the impact on retailers is very minimal."

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.