Mundelein moving ahead with plan to increase tobacco age
Trustees are divided, but Mundelein officials are going to develop an ordinance that would restrict the sale of cigarettes, other tobacco products and e-cigarettes to people 21 or older.
Following a lengthy debate Monday night, three of the board's six trustees supported increasing the minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18, while two strongly opposed such a change. The sixth said she hasn't yet made up her mind.
But the consensus from the three who favor increasing the age was enough to move forward.
Under Illinois law, the minimum age to buy or possess cigarettes and other tobacco products is 18. But municipalities can set the threshold higher.
The Lake County Health Department and other groups have been campaigning for towns to do just that, and some -- including Buffalo Grove, Highland Park, Lincolnshire and Vernon Hills -- have.
The threshold has jumped to 21 in unincorporated areas of Lake County, too.
Mundelein trustees discussed the issue Monday after presentations by health department representatives and local high school students who believe the minimum age should be 21.
Trustees Bill Rekus, Ray Semple and Scott Black favored increasing the age, as did Mayor Steve Lentz.
Rekus said he is concerned about "the safety of our youth."
If something can be done to keep one young person from being harmed by cigarettes, Rekus said, "I will support it."
On the other side, Trustee Dawn Abernathy said increasing the purchasing age would hurt local businesses. Thirty-six Mundelein businesses sell cigarettes or other tobacco products.
And although he called people who smoke "stupid," Trustee Kerston Russell said it should fall to parents, not the government, to keep young people from smoking.
"I don't want to see government continue to play the role of parent," Russell said.
Trustee Robin Meier said she was undecided.