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Illinois City Gets Proactive

MACOMB, Ill. -- Convenience store retailers in Illinois may be getting a new tool to help them in their fight to stop sales of tobacco to minors. A proposal to ban the possession of tobacco products by minors could be approved within the next two weeks by the Macomb City Council.

The proposed ordinance also outlaws purchase or possession of tobacco products by any person under the age of 18. Sale or offer for sale of tobacco products within "100 feet of any school, child care facility or other building used for education or recreational programs" for underaged persons is illegal.

Misrepresentation of identity or age, as well as use of "false or altered identification for the purpose of purchasing tobacco products," are also prohibited. Licensees may not employ or permit minors to sell tobacco products by licensees. They will display red-lettered signs on a white background clearly "informing the public of the age restrictions" provisions of the ordinance.

Violators are liable to be fined at least $50 under the ordinance that also creates the McDonough Teen Court Diversion Program, through which underage offenders could be made to undergo an educational peer program.

Put together by the city's Quality of Life Committee, which unanimously adopted it at its Feb. 26 meeting, the proposal seeks to amend the existing ordinance. According to committee vice chairman Clyde Cronkhite, the intention is to plug what is seen as a loophole in state law.

"We have nothing locally that prevents minors from possessing tobacco. The only thing they could get in trouble for is buying it. The amended law will make it unlawful to possess tobacco," Cronkhite told the Macomb Journal. "You get a ticket for possession. You will be cited to the Teen Court. If the Teen Court accepts the citation, there will be a remedial program for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders would be referred to the city attorney and there will be some sort of fine."
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