CLINTON — On Monday, the city approved changes to its tobacco ordinance to include tobacco substitutes and e-cigarettes. The move is intended to make it easier for police to reduce the number of underage youth using, particularly, e-cigarettes, commonly known as “vaping.”
Police Chief Ben Lowers told the city council in August his department was working closely with the school district to eliminate vaping products in the schools, and he told council members about the plan to modify the city ordinance.
“We’re adding that to our tobacco ordinance to help combat a significantly growing issue of kids using vaping type devices, especially at school,” Lower said.
The vaping industry developed as an alternative to cigarette smoking, which causes lung cancer and contributes to several other diseases, such as heart disease. But the cartridges used in vaping still contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance.
The Illinois Public Health Department has been investigating a number of recent illnesses, and at least one death, in young people believed to be the result of vaping.
“We’re adding alternative nicotine products, which are your vaping mechanisms,” Lowers said. “It has become a tremendous issue in the schools; it was last year.”
Lowers said other municipalities have passed similar changes to their tobacco codes.
“The schools are dealing with it in a disciplinary fashion,” he said. “But, this adds another layer of enforcement that we can utilize.”
Studies have shown nicotine to be 5 to 10 times more potent than cocaine or morphine in producing behavioral and psychological effects associated with addiction.
Lowers said the plan was to reduce the use of nicotine products by underage youth.
“They (school district) have been highly anticipating this since last school year,” Lower said. “I’m sure they will notify the kids.”
He said the majority of the students his department dealt with were under the age of 18. With the implementation of new state law, all local students now are underage for the purchase or use of nicotine products.
Effective in July, the State of Illinois returned the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.
Vaping has become a “fad,” with youth, according to Lowers. “…As young as 5th or 6th grade last year.”
Part of the attraction is that vaping cartridges come in a variety of flavors, but they are still nicotine delivery systems.
“They have become a commodity the kids are trading in school,” Lowers said. “Obviously, any kind of nicotine product isn’t good for kids, or for anyone else.”
The change will become effective 10 days after publication.