CRYSTAL LAKE – After 27 years as a smoker, Effie Elliott quit smoking combustible cigarettes nine months ago.
She had tried everything, but only electronic cigarettes, also known as personal vaporizers, seemed to work.
And she was so thrilled with the results that she opened her own shop, Vape Amore, in Crystal Lake.
Person after person told story after story to the Crystal Lake City Council, hoping to sway the council members against imposing regulations that would treat e-cigarettes like combustibles – known as analogs in the vapor community – in public places like restaurants and bars.
More than 30 people turned out for the meeting to show their opposition to the regulation.
However, whether e-cigarettes help people quit isn’t the question before the City Council, Mayor Aaron Shepley said.
“The only real question before us is: What does it do and what impact, if any, does it have on people who are not vapors?” Shepley said. “That would be the only reason why we would want to intervene in this. ... Based on all the studies that we’ve been provided, the jury is, in fact, still out.”
Most of the council members took Shepley’s position on the issue, and in a 6-0 vote with one abstention, the council voted to not take up any of the proposed amendments.
Councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller abstained, saying after the meeting that she had just “decided not to voice an opinion” on the issue.
Her only comment during the debate was that she “find[s] it interesting that [the council] is suddenly worried about putting our businesses at a disadvantage.”
Councilman Cameron Hubbard added there has been “no public outcry to regulate” e-cigarettes, and Councilman Jeffrey Thorsen said businesses can always choose to ban e-cigarettes in their own establishment.
Leaving enforcement to the businesses can raise its own issues because not all patrons may politely heed a request to stop, Councilman Brett Hopkins said, adding the issue hasn’t reached the point where it needs to be regulated.
The idea had originally come before the council as part of routine proposals by staff based on issues they think the council might want to weigh in on, Shepley said.
Other cities and states – including Chicago, Schaumburg, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Oak Park and Wilmette – have implemented bans on e-cigarettes in indoor public places or within 15 feet of a public entrance, similar to many restrictions on cigarettes, according to council documents. More communities are considering them.
The city of Crystal Lake does currently treat e-cigarettes like cigarettes in terms of sales and prohibits the sale of them to those younger than age 18.