Geneva may ban selling tobacco to people under 21

Posted2/5/2019 5:30 AM

Geneva is considering banning the sale of tobacco products to people younger than 21.

But some aldermen first want evidence that a local ban -- instead of a regional one -- would truly make a difference in decreasing smoking by teenagers.


Alderman Craig Maladra said he feared enacting a ban, without having neighboring cities also ban the sales, would be ineffective. But Michael Isaacson, a Kane County Health Department representative, said he could provide the council with data from other areas, including towns in Massachusetts, that single-town bans did lower youth smoking.

The idea was part of a discussion about updating the city's tobacco-sales ordinance.

Aldermen unanimously agreed with a police-department proposal to outlaw the possession of e-cigarette, or "vaping," materials by people under the age of 18. The liquid in e-cigarettes does not contain tobacco, but does contain nicotine, an addictive substance.

Chief Eric Passarelli said Geneva school officials requested that, because students at Geneva High School and its two middle schools have taken to vaping at the schools. The practice is against state law, meaning that if the city wants to take legal action against the student, they have to go through the juvenile court system, a time-consuming process.

But if Geneva makes possession of vaping materials a city-ordinance violation, the violators can be issued tickets, with a minimum fine of $25, Passarelli said.

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Isaacson said county surveys show that in 2018, 28 percent of high-school seniors admitted to vaping.

Passarelli also said during the last undercover investigation for stores selling tobacco and vaping products, eight of 14 stores sold to the undercover agent, even after the agent presented a real driver's license that clearly showed the agent was under the age of 18.

Tobacco 21

Aldermen disagreed about whether Geneva should take the lead on banning the sale of tobacco to under-21s in the Tri-Cities.

Alderman Robert Swanson, Becky Hruby and Mike Bruno say it should.

Doing so would show state legislators the amount of support there is for making a statewide ban, Bruno said.

Swanson said he understood the problem with Geneva-alone doing it, in that the buyers could just go next door to get the products.

"But there are benefits in us being a leader," he said.

"I think that is interesting, but I don't think it makes a difference (in reducing smoking)," Maladra said.

"I would still want Geneva to do it, even if the other towns around us don't," Hruby said. When Maladra asked "why," she responded, "Because it is the right thing to do. ... You do what you can do."

Passarelli will now draft the proposed changes. No date was set for an official vote.

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