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Mundelein bans e-cigarette sales to minors

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 10:06 a.m. CDT

MUNDELEIN (MCT) — Mundelein leaders have voted to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to those under 18, providing a stopgap measure until a state law goes into effect at the beginning of 2014.

Police Chief Eric Guenther said the move was an extension of local ordinances that already outlaw the sale and possession of tobacco products to minors.

"With the popularity growing, it's important that we get out in front of this," he said.

Prior to Monday's unanimous vote, the products — commonly referred to as e-cigarettes or e-cigs — could be purchased by anyone, the chief said.

Mundelein's age restrictions went into effect Tuesday.

Battery-powered e-cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but they do provide doses of nicotine to users by heating cartridges of the substance, which can be flavored, and emitting steam that is inhaled.

As use of the devices appears to grow, village officials said it was only logical to regulate them like cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.

"It's important ... for the next few months, that we're able to enforce that ban locally," Mayor Steve Lentz said.

In August, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the statewide law, which is set to go into effect Jan. 1.

The measure will make it illegal for anyone in Illinois to sell, furnish or give an electronic cigarette or other alternative nicotine product to anyone younger than 18, said Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A survey released in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of high-schoolers who have tried e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, from 4.7 percent to 10 percent.

While the devices are not regulated on the federal level, Arnold said attorneys general from 40 states are urging the Food and Drug Administration to put laws in place restricting the advertising and ingredients of e-cigarettes as well as their sale to minors.

In the meantime, other municipalities have enacted regulations of the products.

Last month, Evanston prohibited the use of electronic cigarettes in all areas that are smoke-free and within 25 feet of building entrances, said Martha Logan, a city spokeswoman.

While Mundelein's new law does not restrict the use of the devices, it does dictate where stores must display them.

Of the 36 stores in town that have tobacco licenses, Guenther said half sell e-cigarettes. And while he said "most, if not all" of the stores already keep them behind the counter, Monday's action codifies that. Mundelein police also plan to start doing compliance checks for the electronic devices, Guenther said, in the same way they would for alcohol or tobacco products. Stores or minors in violation could be fined $100 to $500.

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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