The issue of vaping, especially by young people, is still on the minds of Will County Board members.
The board continued discussions amid more news of severe lung illnesses and even deaths linked to e-cigarette use. As of Oct. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented around 1,000 cases of lung injury, including one New Lenox teenager, and 18 deaths among those who use vaping products, the vast majority of whom are under the age of 35.
A few board Democrats suggested revisiting a debate about the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products in unincorporated areas. The County Board recently voted to add e-cigarette products to its ordinance, but kept the age to purchase at 18, although the state raised the purchase age to 21 this year.
“I’d be willing to revisit it,” member Mimi Cowan said. “I’m not sure if others would.”
Responding to headlines of concerns over vaping, Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, even asked in a committee meeting last month if the county could ban e-cigarette products. It cannot as the state regulates the product.
Still, others thought of different approaches to take.
Last week during the County Board’s Public Health and Safety Committee meeting, board member Don Gould, R-Shorewood, suggested the board support some sort of action at the state level. State lawmakers have discussed banning flavored e-cigarettes, which they argue have been marketed to young people.
Member Jackie Traynere, D-Bolingbrook, who heads the board’s Legislative and Policy Committee, said she thinks her colleagues might go along with whatever action the state decides to take on e-cigarette use.
Other members suggested the board learn more about the issue and even solicit input from stakeholders in law enforcement, school officials and potentially even young people.
Kathleen Burke, the county’s director of substance use initiatives, suggested County Board members look at the issue with more of a long-term approach, focusing on education and prevention.
Some members pointed out that Will County communities were taking initiative by planning forums to educate parents and students about vaping.
Traynere said she liked how the Will County Sheriff’s Office has been warning about the potential harm of vaping through public service announcements.
“[It’s about] education,” Traynere said. “Letting people know what the effects are of these things ... We can have laws too, but you’re never going to stop everything.”