The Vernon Hills Village Board is considering limiting the types of flavored vape, e-cigarette, and tobacco products a business can sell within the village limits. This potential policy, part of a larger discussion to ban the sale of these products within the village altogether, is arbitrary and would harm many small businesses in Vernon Hills.
Often times, the goal of these types of policies is to limit use of a “sinful” product, but these practices are discriminatory to small businesses. Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer reported, “15 businesses within town are licensed to sell tobacco and vaping products. About half those businesses sell flavored products, with one business in particular, Artisan’s Vaping, selling it as their main focal point. While nothing is formal on any ban, trustees kicked around the idea of a grandfather clause if such a thing materialized.”
Moreover, vaping products are significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes. Millions of Americans have used vaping products to quit smoking cigarettes. We should be promoting vaping products as a viable alternative to smoking, not making them less available and more expensive.
Also, the community could create a voluntary Family and Community Health Alliance. Many communities have discovered that public health improves when parents, business owners, and politicians work together to improve communities by voluntary communication instead of using government policy to nudge certain behaviors.
Another flaw to the logic behind banning the sale of vaping products in Vernon Hills is they are legal across the state. Individuals can merely drive across the street to purchase these products. It is unlikely that banning or limiting the sale of the products within the village will have any major impact because the products are so widely available, including via the internet.
As a result, the economic impact this policy would have on small business located in Vernon Hills would be detrimental. The dozens of vape shops and convenience stores in Vernon Hills that sell vaping products would be harmed, with little likelihood of decreasing the very behaviors the banners seek to reduce.
What’s more, small businesses are already being crushed as a result of the lockdowns. Nearly 100,000 small businesses have gone bankrupt since the pandemic. The last thing elected officials in Vernon Hills should be doing at this moment is making it more difficult for small businesses to operate, which is exactly what the limit/ban on vaping products would do.
These business owners aren’t big box stores, but local neighbors, families, and friends. Before the Vernon Hills Village Board decides to move forward to enact policy limiting community members from making a living for themselves, they ought to remember whom they are elected to serve in the first place.
Fortunately, the board has decided to hold off on making any decisions until business and community members can be part of the discussion. It is important to hear the opinions from all parties involved and strongly consider the ramifications if these potential policies are implemented. It is necessary that the government understands that individuals are healthier and live better lives when given the opportunity to make decisions for themselves.
Christina Herrin ([email protected]) is the government relations manager at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.