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DeKalb leaders considering e-cigarette rules

DeKALB – DeKalb city officials are researching rules that could regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes and where people can use them.

They are investigating how to regulate the sale of the devices to establish an ordinance by September. In the course of their research, the staff found that some cities also regulate use of electronic cigarettes, City Attorney Dean Frieders said.

He’s not sure, however, if regulations would be packaged together. Frieders also said it’s too soon to tell what – if any – regulations regarding use staff members will recommend to the City Council.

“We’re looking at it, seeing what else is out there, what other communities are doing and what the best models seem to be,” Frieders said.

The battery-operated devices heat a nicotine solution to produce an odorless vapor. Solutions come in a variety of flavors such as fruit, candy or spices, which many health experts – along with DeKalb officials – believe could attract minors.

City Council members in March passed a temporary ordinance requiring establishments where e-cigarette sales make up 20 percent or more of sales to obtain a license. Aldermen have until September to establish a permanent ordinance as that is when the temporary ordinance expires.

Little is known about the devices, including how helpful they are to smokers trying to quit or how much they push people to traditional tobacco products.

In the meantime, FDA has proposed new rules for the devices.

The proposed rules would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone younger than 18, which is already the law in Illinois. They would also add warning labels and require FDA approval for new products.

DeKalb Mayor John Rey said although his knowledge of the devices is limited and he hasn’t seen anyone using them in public places in DeKalb, he’s not convinced they’re harmless.

“My brief understanding of the e-cigarette consumption is that potentially that second-hand smoke is as much an issue as it is with other cigarettes,” Rey said. “That leads me to concern to their use indoors.”

Earlier this year, Chicago banned people from using the devices at indoor public places such as bars and restaurants.

Locally, Sycamore staffers also have done some research into the devices, but a recommendation and council action won’t come any time soon, said City Manager Brian Gregory.

“We’ve looked at different policies, but it’s premature to say what will come of that,” Gregory said.

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