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Bravo Mt. Prospect

The trustees of Mt. Prospect, Illinois, have passed a ruling allowing individual establishments to decide for themselves whether they will allow patrons to use electronic cigarettes on their premises.

The measure is paired with a ban on sale to minors with a provision that stores selling e-cigarettes must keep them under the counter. This ruling contrasts with the recently passed ordinance in nearby Chicago, banning use of e-cigs in any public place.

Mt. Prospect is a suburban community on Chicago's northwest side, 22 miles northwest of the city, with a population of 54,167 according to the 2010 census. It lies just west of Northbrook, home to e-cig company Vapor4Life, which features an in-store vaping lounge, and which just opened WOW Vapor, a new vape shop further south, inside the city limits. WOW, located in the funky Lincoln Square neighborhood on Chicago's north side, is hoping to get permission from the city to allow in-store vaping, since it will be classified as a tobacco products shop, rather than as a public space. The decision is expected in mid-February.

Speaking of the group's unanimous decision, Village Manager Michael Janonis said, “We won’t regulate with establishments. … If a bar wants to allow it, they have the right. They can also prevent it and tell customers to go outside and smoke [sic].” Another village trustee, Michael Zadel went on record at an earlier meeting saying that the municipality should not ban things that are not detrimental to people's health, and fellow trustee Richard Rogers noted that proprietors who don't wish to have customers vaping in their establishments may put up signs prohibiting it. Trustee Paul Hoefert agrees, saying that this is the right step for the village. Janonis will be sending a mailing to all businesses that sell tobacco products, describing the revised measures, which will take effect after “a reasonable amount of time”. The Village Manager also plans to be in touch with all establishments that have liquor licenses regarding the policies. It sounds as though Mt. Prospect is offering citizens the freedom to make their own decisions about controversial products, instead of supervising health choices.

However, the village is also developing a policy banning e-cigarette use in the municipality's administrative building, Village Hall. Staff members wishing to vape will have to go outside, just as smokers do. In actuality, this is in line with the policy of letting proprietors decide. The city has decided in one way, but will allow bars, clubs, and restaurants to make the decision for themselves.

It will be interesting to see if the revised Mt. Prospect ruling will have any impact on Chicago's decision regarding the WOW Vapor vape shop and its request to allow on-site vaping. The parent establishment of WOW, Vapor4Life, is just a stone's throw from Mt. Prospect, in Northbrook, and it does have an on site vaping lounge. But WOW is just across the border to the south, in the city of Chicago itself. And the Chicago City Council, led by mayor Rahm Emanuel, has chosen not to allow Chicago citizens that kind of freedom in their health behavior choices.