The Huntley Village Board recently approved two ordinances setting stricter definitions and regulations for tobacco and vape product retailers.
This came days before Tobacco 21 legislation takes effect that will raise the purchasing age of tobacco and electronic cigarette products to 21 statewide.
But despite these new policies, employees of several tobacco and vape shops in Huntley are comfortable abiding, even if it means having to apply for a new license.
Amy Wiloff, team lead for Wise Guy Vapes in Huntley, said she doesn’t want the vaping industry to follow suit with big tobacco companies only interested in turning a profit.
“It’s not about making money. It’s about helping people,” Wiloff said. “In Huntley, this demographic is a little different than most places, and we have the older generation coming, wanting to try vaping to quit smoking and they’re successful and that’s what is important to me.”
Therefore, Wiloff said vape retailers are going to abide by these changes because they want to continue to help people.
“I still feel like the vape industry is going to continue booming no matter what they do because people that are in this industry really do want to help and provide exceptional customer service, and that’s what we’re all about, so we’ll see what happens,” Wiloff said.
Last year, the Huntley Village Board imposed a moratorium on cigarette, smoke, cigar and vape shops. In March, village staff was advised to move forward with zoning text amendments on definitions, zoning and sales of tobacco and vape products.
Both local ordinances were approved by a 5-0 vote Thursday. Trustee Ronda Goldman was absent.
The first ordinance sets a minimum distance between any two shops at 1,000 feet. The distance between a shop and any premises used primarily as a school, child care facility or for the education or recreation of children younger than 18 also will be set at 1,000 feet.
It also reduces the number of permitted zoning districts in which tobacco and vape retailers can operate from six to one.
Under the ordinance, tobacco and vape shops are only a permitted use in the C-2 regional retail district, which is intended to accommodate larger scale commercial developments.
Although this makes four of the five retailers in Huntley nonconforming, an amended licensing process – which was outlined in the second ordinance – would allow the shops to remain in business.
This ordinance establishes a licensing process for tobacco and vape product retailers similar to liquor licensing and amends village code so it would address the new changes from Tobacco 21.
Hitesh Suchde, owner of Best Price Tobacco and Gifts, 11717 Main St., said he supports Tobacco 21 legislation to keep his products out of the hands of children and would be fine complying with a new licensing process.
“Whatever [village officials] say, we are ready to do,” Suchde said.
Suchde said he has talked with the village about only allowing people
age 21 or older to enter his shop once the Tobacco 21 initiative takes effect.
However, Huntley is not the only municipality that has taken measures to reduce tobacco and vape product use by young people.
In March, Lake in the Hills became the first municipality in McHenry County to pass a local Tobacco 21 initiative. This came the same day that statewide Tobacco 21 legislation passed both legislative chambers.
Tobacco 21 will take effect statewide Monday.