Elk Grove Village limits tobacco sales to 21 and over

Elk Grove Village now is restricting the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes to people 21 or older.

Village board members voted 4-2 last week to approve the measure raising the minimum age from 18, a less ambitious proposal than the outright ban on tobacco sales pushed by Mayor Craig Johnson.

Opponents argued the ban will cause smokers to buy from neighboring towns and harm local businesses, while supporters called the ordinance a step in the right direction for public health.

"Do I think our ordinance is going to stop everything? No, but I think it's going to point in a direction, and it's going to have great symbolic value," Trustee Pat Feichter said.

Feichter and Trustees Nancy Czarnik, Sam Lissner and James Petri supported the ordinance. Trustees Christine Prochno and Jeff Franke opposed it.

"To me, this is a right - that somebody should have the choice at 18 years old," Franke said. "I truly don't think this is going to stop anything in Elk Grove. They're going to go two blocks over and buy the cigarettes."

Gas and convenience store owners attended the Nov. 14 meeting to fight the ordinance. They argued the decision should be made by the federal government.

"You should run for president and maybe ban tobacco altogether. I will support you," BP gas station owner Imtiaz Mamon told Johnson.

Earlier this year, Johnson proposed an outright ban on tobacco sales in the village but later pulled the proposal when he didn't get enough support from trustees.

"I wish I was president to do that because that would be the first and only thing I'd do and then I'd go home happy," Johnson said.

Elk Grove Village isn't the first to restrict tobacco sales to people age 21 and over. 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.

The age restriction will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Employees under 21 will continue to be allowed to sell tobacco.

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