Cook County plan would put e-cigs behind counter
Thursday, February 13, 2014
by Hal Dardick
Sellers of electronic cigarettes in much of suburban Cook County would have to move them behind the counter just like ordinary smokes under new regulations a county commissioner wants to make law.
County Board member Jeffrey Tobolski, D-McCook, also would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, a step that would mimic a state law that went into effect Jan. 1.
The proposal, to be formally introduced next week, also would ban the sale of e-cigarettes within 500 feet of a school, child-care center or children’s recreation area.
“E-cigarettes are continually being sold with new flavors and what was once intended to be a smoking-cessation device is now a way for kids to pick up a nicotine habit,” Tobolski said in a statement. “E-cigarettes have their place in the market, but they should be regulated just like any other substance that contains addictive chemicals.”
If approved, the new law would apply in most suburbs with populations of less than 25,000 and in unincorporated areas, but it’s not clear whether it would apply in larger suburbs, said Kevin Fanning, a spokesman for Tobolski.
Violations would trigger fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.Tobolski’s effort, backed by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, comes a month after theChicago City Council approved a similar measure.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s changes also banned the use of e-cigarettes anywhere regular smoking is banned. Evanston earlier enacted the same ban. Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to classify e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.
Critics of e-cigarette regulation, including makers of the product, say there’s no scientific evidence that the devices are harmful like regular cigarettes, but anti-smoking groups strongly back the regulation efforts.