By Angela Garrity
The city council of Des Plaines, Illinois voted unanimously to outlaw possession of tobacco and vaping products to those under 21 years of age, in addition to, raising the minimum purchase age from 18 to 21, reports The Daily Herald. The ordinance requires a second vote of approval, which is expected later this month.
Des Plaines joins a number of other towns in the state that are Tobacco 21.
Alderman debated briefly about whether to change the proposed ordinance to include a ban on possession — not just the sale and purchase — of tobacco and nicotine products.
“The question is how strong a statement we want to make on the topic,” 6th Ward Alderman Malcolm Chester said. “From where I sit and where I stand, I’d like to make the strongest statement possible.”
Thirty two municipalities across Illinois have voted to go Tobacco 21, however only Lake Zurich and Deerfield have passed ordinances to further restrict possession to those under the legal age.
Police Chief Bill Kushner said banning possession could make the new ordinance more difficult to enforce, but officers would enforce it to the best of their ability. He pointed out that an 18-year-old could legally purchase tobacco products in another town but be in violation of the law if he possesses them in Des Plaines.
Under the ordinance, a store owner caught selling tobacco or nicotine products to someone underage will be fined $750.
An underage person found in violation of the ordinance will be fined $250. First-time offenders and students at a school in Des Plaines will be given the option to complete an education program rather than pay the fine. The student would need to pay for the cost of the program.