New Lenox to Vote on Vapor Cigarettes, Gambling, Microbrewery

Michelle Mullins | 1/26/2016, 1:36 p.m. | Updated on 1/27/2016, 11:08 a.m.
New Lenox officials are considering changes to their local ordinances governing e-cigarette shops, video gaming and microbreweries.

The New Lenox Village Board will vote next month on new ordinances regulating electronic smoking devices, video gambling and new liquor licenses.

The board is considering an ordinance that would include electronic smoking devices and e-cigarettes within the parameters of the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

The act, which went into effect in 2008, prohibits smoking in all public places and workplaces, such as businesses, shops, restaurants, bars, private clubs and casinos.

According to the ordinance, the American Heart Association states that electronic smoking devices and e-cigarettes pose potential health risks that should be studied and supports vapor products and alternatives to nicotine to be included in the existing smoke-free laws.

The village has the authority to regulate smoking in public places and will consider adding vapor products to the existing smoke free laws next month.

Mayor Tim Baldermann tried to assuage vapor store business owners who wondered how the ordinance would affect their shops.

A customer can sample different flavorings of the vapor products in the vapor store as long as it does not contain nicotine, Baldermann said.

Some vapor products contain tobacco or menthol flavors that simulate cigarette brands while other vapor products could taste like fruits, desserts, coffees or beverages. Some people use electronic cigarettes to quit smoking and use various levels of nicotine to wean themselves off cigarettes.

The new village ordinance would also prohibit the sale of vapor products to minors under the age of 18 years old, and electronic smoking would be prohibited within 15 feet of doorways to businesses.

The village board is also considering expanding its video gaming ordinance to include businesses that derive more than 60 percent of its yearly revenue from non-video gaming related sales.

Right now, video gambling is only allowed at the VFW, the American Legion, the Sanctuary Golf Course and licensed truck stops within the village, but many restaurant owners have approached the village asking for approval for video gaming, Baldermann said.

Business owners have said they are losing customers to surrounding communities who have machines in their restaurants, Baldermann said, adding the village recognizes that the restaurant industry can be a difficult business to be in.

He said the video gaming law has been around long enough that he feels the village can help its existing businesses and safeguard its residents.

Because at least 60 percent of a business’s gross revenue must come from non-video gaming related sales, it would likely eliminate gambling cafes from opening in strip malls in the village, Baldermann said.

Trustee David Smith said he will vote against the video gaming ordinance because he believes it is not good for the economy or for the community.

The village board will also vote next month on a new classification of liquor licenses to include microbreweries and wineries.

Adding the microbrewery classification will allow Arrowhead Ales Brewing Company, a craft beer brewery, to locate in the village at 2101 Calistoga Dr. later this spring.