East Dundee could regulate e-cigarette use by minors
East Dundee trustees are considering adjudicating e-cigarette violations involving minors at the village level.
State law enacted more than two years ago prohibits the sale or distribution of alternative nicotine products to anyone under the age of 18. East Dundee's village code contains provisions for handling tobacco violations, which could include a local citation or adjudication hearing, but it does not address e-cigarettes, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said.
That means cases in which a juvenile is found in possession of an e-cigarette, or a business is caught selling those products to a minor, are sent directly to county court, she said.
Trustees this week agreed to create regulations for e-cigarettes that mirror the village's tobacco rules. The village board is expected to formally vote on the measure later this month.
"They really are quite similar in nature, and they both contain nicotine, so that's why we feel that they should be treated the same," Johnsen said.
According to the village code, a $50 ticket is issued to any minor found in possession of tobacco. Businesses or individuals who sell tobacco to a juvenile -- or minors who misrepresent their age -- have to go through administrative adjudication. That process, which requires an appearance before a hearing officer, could result in a fine or other retribution.
Johnsen said having the option to work with offenders locally, rather than sending the case directly to circuit court, often can strengthen relationships with law enforcement and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses.
"Although it makes it easier (on the offender), it actually is a tool that sometimes is more successful in obtaining compliance," Johnsen said. "This gives us more tools to work with different types of offenders in different ways."
East Dundee officials also debated whether to ban the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace -- action that has been taken in a handful of suburban towns including Arlington Heights, Elk Grove Village, Naperville and Schaumburg, Johnsen said. Smoking in the workplace is prohibited by state law, but it does not specifically address alternative nicotine products.
Rather than take a proactive approach, trustees agreed to wait for action at the state level. Individual businesses also have the option to permit or prohibit e-cigarettes in their own workplaces, Johnsen said.
"Because there was no sense of urgency, and because we know that in time the state will most likely address this, we figured it'd be safer for the village to wait until it's a statewide regulation," she said.