NEW LENOX — New Lenox is set to approve extending its Smoke Free New Lenox ordinance to e-cigarettes and similar products.
The Village Board discussed Monday a set of three ordinances that would include alternative smoking devices containing nicotine, such as e-cigarettes, on the list of products banned from use in public spaces.
The amended language on the Smoke Free New Lenox ordinance includes: "Further, Smoke or Smoking means the use of any alternative nicotine product or vapor product, as defined in this section."
An alternative nicotine product is defined as any product containing nicotine but no tobacco and a vapor product is defined as any electronic device used to emit a vapor from nicotine, in a solution or other form, according to the ordinance.
The other two ordinances add illegal use as well as sale of these products to minors to New Lenox's punishable offenses and outline related fines and penalties.
Public health concerns, as with tobacco smoking, are the sole reason for bringing this action, said Mayor Tim Baldermann, citing concerns from the World Health Organization on the negative effects of nicotine.
"We are not arguing the science," he said.
Baldermann said after the meeting that the village in the coming months is also moving toward making changes to zoning ordinances that would require new vaping businesses to be located only in industrial areas to ensure lack of access to minors.
The owners of two New Lenox vaping shops addressed the trustees and voiced some questions and concerns on how the new ordinance would affect their businesses.
Jason Kois, of Iron Clad Vapor, wanted to ensure his customers would still be allowed to test the variety of flavors he sold within the shop using a device setting that would emit no nicotine.
Baldermann said as long as nicotine was not being emitted into the air the shops would not be in violation of the law.
Jason Gaither, who co-owns Black Wolf Vapes with Justin Hoogeweg, told the board that many customers like to come and smoke their own devices in the shops, and that it would be difficult for the owners to regulate vaping within their shops.
Baldermann said the owners would have to enforce the law in their businesses.
Hoogeweg, in a later interview, said preventing customers from using their own devices in his store would "absolutely affect our business."
Gaither said the owners plan to come back to the board when it votes on the measures with more information, adding that perhaps all the research on vaping is not getting to "the people making these decisions."
"We want to make sure that vaping has a fair chance and that people have a chance to read the proper information," he said.