Wauconda board won't vote on 'Tobacco' 21 plan

  • Wauconda trustees have shelved a proposed to increase the minimum age for buying tobacco products in town to 21.

      Wauconda trustees have shelved a proposed to increase the minimum age for buying tobacco products in town to 21. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer 2017

Updated 8/21/2018 5:35 PM

Divided on the issue, Wauconda officials are shelving a plan to increase the minimum age for buying cigarettes, e-cigarettes and related products to 21 from 18.

Trustees are going to wait to see if Gov. Bruce Rauner signs legislation that would make 21 the minimum age for buying tobacco products statewide. The General Assembly approved that legislation this spring.


Wauconda's license and administrative committee has debated whether people ages 18 to 20 should be able to continue buying tobacco and vaping products in town. It did so again Monday.

According to health experts, people who haven't used tobacco by age 21 are unlikely to start. Additionally, research shows increasing the minimum age to 21 could reduce premature deaths and preterm births.

The discussion at Wauconda village hall was prompted by a presentation from the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force.

Although Illinois law sets the minimum age to buy or possess tobacco products and e-cigarettes at 18, municipalities and counties can set the threshold higher.

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Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Lincolnshire, Mundelein and Vernon Hills are among the towns that have increased the minimum age. The threshold is 21 in unincorporated areas of Lake County, too.

Among the Wauconda trustees, Rich Morino, Chuck Black and Ken Arnswald supported increasing the minimum age.

Trustees Adam Schlick and Tim Howe were on the other side of the issue, and Trustee Linda Starkey said she was on the fence, a precarious position she still holds.

"I don't know that this is a local issue," Starkey said. "I'd rather see it handled by the state or federal government."

Although the committee isn't moving forward with a so-called "Tobacco 21" proposal, members on Monday recommended the full board add e-cigarettes and vaping devices to the town's ordinance restricting smoking, Village Administrator Kevin Timony said. That change would make it illegal for people to use those products indoors and for anyone 17 or younger to possess them.

The village board could vote on that change in September, Timony said.

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