Illinois Village Looks to Penalize Smoking Teens

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Illinois Village Looks to Penalize Smoking Teens

ANTIOCH, Ill. -- Underage smokers in Antioch, Ill., could soon face fines or other penalties if police catch them possessing or using tobacco products.

Antioch trustees are endorsing an ordinance that would allow police to impose fines ranging from $25 to $100 on those under 18 years old if they are caught using or possessing tobacco in any form, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Retailers nationwide and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) continue to support shared-responsibility legislation that holds minors responsible for their actions when trying to buy age-restricted products such as cigarettes and alcohol.

It is illegal in Illinois for retailers to sell tobacco products to individuals under age 18, but it is not against the law for underage individuals to have or use tobacco.

Under the proposed ordinance, an underage individual caught using or possessing tobacco products would be fined $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second and $100 for third and subsequent offenses.

A similar measure is used in neighboring Winthrop Harbor, Ill., and it has proved to be successful.

But fines may not necessarily be the way to go, Antioch trustee Scott Pierce said. Mandatory community service could also work. "It might do a little more good than fines," he said. "Some kids would get more out of that than paying a $25 fine."

Police Chief Chuck Fagan also presented the board with underage smoking ordinances from other municipalities. He agreed that there are alternatives other than imposing monetary fines. The ordinance also would give officers discretion to send the individual to teen court, where peers would decide a proper penalty.