ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. -- Add a Chicago suburb to the list of municipalities raising the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21—a move that falls short of its mayor’s original intent to totally ban tobacco sales in his village.
Village Board members voted 4-2 in mid-November to approve the legal-age measure, which followed Mayor Craig Johnson’s failed attempt to rally enough board votes for an outright ban, according to the Daily Herald.
Opponents said the change in legal age would simply force consumers to buy product from adjacent towns, while proponents said it would improve the public health.
“Do I think our ordinance is going to stop [all smoking]? No, but I think it’s going to point in a direction, and it’s going to have great symbolic value,” said Trustee Pat Feichter, who voted for the measure.
“To me, this is a right—that somebody should have the choice at 18 years old,” said Trustee Jeff Franke, who voted against the measure. “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.”
At the Nov. 14 meeting, convenience-store owners argued that raising the legal age should be a federal-government decision, according to the Daily Herald. A shift in policy at the federal level would create an even playing field vs. neighboring towns having different rules, they said.
Elk Grove is not the only Chicago-area city to raise the age of tobacco purchasing to 21. Besides Chicago itself, other Illinois municipalities that have made the move include Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire and Naperville, as well as unincorporated areas of Lake County, Ill.
The age restriction in Elk Grove Village will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Employees under 21 but older than 17 will continue to be allowed to sell tobacco.
Lawmakers in other areas of the country have also been talking openly about raising the legal age in their jurisdictions, including the state of Indiana, the city of San Antonio, and Onondaga County in New York.