Oak Lawn trustees increase smoking age, adjust firework fines

The Oak Lawn Village Board voted unanimously this week to raise the smoking age, increase firework fines and designate an unused street park land.

Oak Lawn ordinance stated people were able to smoke tobacco products at 18 despite the state increasing the smoking age to 21. But trustees voted Tuesday on an omnibus of resolutions including bringing the village’s tobacco smoking age up to the state guidelines.

Mayor Terry Vorderer said Thursday it was the right thing to do with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and vaping, which has become a problem.

“Oak Lawn doesn’t want to support that type of conduct,” Vorderer said. “Of course, an adult 21 years of age can.”

The legal smoking age of cannabis in Oak Lawn has been and remains at 21.

Vorderer also handles liquor and tobacco licenses and regulations for the village and said he and the other trustees agreed to cap the number of stores with a tobacco license at 12, the current number in town.

The board also voted in favor of imposing stricter fines to individuals who light off fireworks. A resident interrupted the meeting to ask exactly how this vote would affect residents.

Oak Lawn has long been a firework free town and the ordinance states fireworks or pyrotechnics are unlawful except at a exhibition licensed by the village.

Officials said the ordinance change will allow police to increase the fine from $50 to $100 for those who shoot off fireworks. The mayor said this will prevent officers from having to make an arrest for minor firework use, because doing so would take up a great deal of the officer’s time.

But for instances of “the most grievous violations” of community peace involving fireworks, arrests are still possible with the associated fine capped at $750.

“Come Fourth of July, as the mayor, probably one of the most common complaints I get is on fireworks,” Vorderer said. “Probably been that way for years.”

The board also approved an Oak Lawn Park District request to vacate a swath of road on 108th Street from Kostner Avenue to Kildare Avenue, turning that section into park land.

Village manager Tom Phelan said this is simply in alteration of the road’s designation and has been an intended change.

“It’s a parcel already in Lawn Manor Park,” Phelan said.

The portion is no longer used as a road but instead is treated as a park, Vorderer explained.