GENEVA – Aldermen are considering a city ordinance that would ban the sale of tobacco to those under age 21.
Echoing past discussions at a special Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 4, aldermen said their preference is for a state-wide restriction.
But after a lengthy discussion, aldermen said they wanted a 21 draft ordinance to consider.
Gov. Rauner vetoed a tobacco 21 law last year. Officials said they hope for the state to take action again.
“If Geneva takes that stand [tobacco 21], they will simply go up Bricher Road to the Amoco there and be right outside of our borders,” Police Chief Eric Passarelli said. “If the council desires a regional approach ... we can ask Batavia and St. Charles to get involved and see if they are interested.”
First Ward Alderman Michael Bruno said if the intent is to reduce consumption by those under 21, it needs to be done regionally.
Michael Isaacson, assistant director of community health at the Kane County Health Department, said both Elgin and Aurora passed laws raising the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21.
Second Ward Alderman Michael Clements said he appreciated the regional aspect, but disagreed.
“I think there are benefits for us being a leader,” Clements said. “And showing our neighbors in Batavia and St. Charles as well, that we are for this. That we are for protecting our youth, and I’m hoping that they will follow us."
Fifth Ward Alderman Craig Maladra said Clements’ view would not matter.
“If you’re interested in making a difference, I think this has to be regional,” Maladra said. “If a person who wants cigarettes has to travel two minutes farther to get them, they’re going to do that."
Maladra recounted the last time the city tried to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21 “was to get West Chicago, Batavia, St. Charles and Elburn to all go together. It was nigh on impossible.”
Bruno disagreed, saying as each municipality changes, state representatives will see that their constituents want to go to 21 for tobacco purchases.
“If we did it, it would start the process,” Clements said.
Third Ward Alderman Becky Hruby agreed.
“I would still want Geneva to do it, even if the towns surrounding us didn’t,” Hruby said.
“The purpose being what?” Maladra asked.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Hruby said. “You do what you can do.”
Fourth Ward Alderman James Radecki said he tended to agree with Maladra and that it requires state-wide, not local action.
“Nobody should smoke,” Radecki said. “In local government, my job is to stay out of people’s business.”
Isaacson said research shows when municipalities restrict tobacco sales to people 21 or older, “youth smoking rates go down.”
“As people will travel to do these things [buy tobacco] – and some certainly will,” Isaacson said. “Most youths, are not going to go out of their way, especially if they have not started it yet.”