Elk Grove Village mayor kills tobacco ban, age increase still possible

  • Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson

      Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/25/2017 5:45 PM

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson's proposal to ban tobacco sales in the Northwest suburb has been snuffed out.

Johnson pulled the effort to outlaw tobacco sales during a meeting Tuesday. However, village trustees did agree to consider raising the minimum age for buying the tobacco products.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The right thing to do is to ban tobacco, and someday a government will be the first one to do it," Johnson said. "But, I'm also realistic and unfortunately, today is not that day and Elk Grove will not be that government."

Johnson said he did not have enough support among trustees to pass an outright ban. If the proposal was approved, the village would've likely paid to fight costly lawsuits against the ordinance, he said.

The village had planned to discuss the ban during a meeting in December. Instead, the village may follow other suburban communities that have raised the age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21. Trustees reached unanimous consensus Tuesday to debate and possibly vote on that proposed ordinance Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Chicago and some other suburbs have already raised the minimum age, including Naperville, Lincolnshire and Buffalo Grove. Lake County has increased the age in unincorporated areas.

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Local businesses that sell tobacco products opposed the ban because it would hurt revenues, possibly leading to closures. Some residents argued the ban infringed upon their rights.

But Johnson reiterated his argument Tuesday that tobacco is guaranteed to harm users, and government leaders are neglecting an oath to protect the health of residents.

"They don't want to lose the money, and that's a battle," he said. "We're fighting other governments because of that. They're hooked on the money."

Still, Johnson said he was encouraged because the ban gained more support than in 2006, when he proposed the same measure. The village eventually restricted smoking in public. In 2008, the state approved a similar Smoke-Free Illinois law.

"I think people sense for the first time there may be a crack in the armor," Johnson said.

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