By John Castle
The Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois, has crossed our readers’ eyes a few times already, notably for imposing steep penalties on minors in possession of nicotine products. Now, the Chicago suburb aims to expand its enforcement efforts by increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco or vapor products to 21.
Interestingly, possession of nicotine products will remain legal for 18-20 year olds; only attempting to purchase nicotine products by, selling such products to, customers within that age range will become illegal, per a revision to city code currently under consideration by Park Ridge City Council. Monday, December 17, is the date set for the proposal to come before a vote. According to Jim Brown, director of community preservation and development for the city of Park Ridge:
“The whole idea behind this is to restrict access to tobacco products by teenagers.”
Those between 18-20 who purchase nicotine products could face fines of up to $500, while businesses caught selling nicotine products to customers within that age range could also face monetary penalties. The effective date of the new law, even if passed, is not yet certain.
Public comment will be heard during the December 17th City Council meeting set to take place at 7PM local time at Park Ridge City Hall, 505 Butler Place.
A bill to take the adoption of Tobacco 21 policy statewide failed to win the signature of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner in August; legislators failed to override Governor Brauner’s veto.
The problem with Park Ridge’s Tobacco 21 adoption is the same as that faced by other communities which have adopted such measures at the municipal level, particularly because Park Ridge’s version imposes no penalties on possession, only on purchase. This means that “straw purchases” of nicotine products by those over 21 will not trigger enforcement; nor will purchases by 18-20 year olds in neighboring municipalities where purchases come with no penalties.