A Chicago suburb is considering an outright ban on the sale of tobacco products.
Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson has put forth a proposed village ordinance prohibiting the sale of tobacco entirely within the northwest suburban community.
The health risks related of products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco are well-documented.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 480,000 people in the U.S. die from illnesses related to tobacco use each year.
Smoking also accounts for about 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the country – including about 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths.
While the single most effective way to reduce consumption of tobacco products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is to increase the price, the village is considering a complete ban – an initiative that has never been done before.
Several other neighboring municipalities have already raised the legal age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21, which is something Elk Grove Village is also considering.
But the proposed ban has smokers and retailers alike concerned.
“It could really bad for a lot of businesses, especially small gas stations like us – small mom-and-pop kind of gas stations,” said Marquinta Simmons, a sales clerk at an Elk Grove Village BP gas station.
“Even though it has a huge name, it’s still a small mom-and-pop station,” she added. “A lot of sales come from cigarettes.”
Jeff Hanrahan said Tuesday that he buys his cigarettes from that very station because “they got the market cornered as far as lowest prices in town.”
But if the ordinance passes, he might have to go somewhere else to get his nicotine fix – a trip that he said plenty of other customers will make.
Some consumers – even those who don’t smoke – said the issue isn’t about tobacco, but their right to buy it.
“Alcohol is deadly as well,” said Joe Dible, who himself doesn’t smoke. “There’s a lot of things that are harmful to us. It comes down to free choice. If people want to buy it then they should be able to buy it.”
The Elk Grove Village Board of Trustees is scheduled to take up both proposals of raising the age and the outright ban in mid-December.
Published at 4:48 PM CDT on Oct 24, 2017 | Updated at 6:20 PM CDT on Oct 24, 2017