Law might restrict cigarette machines

By Paul Brizz

Cigarette vending machines might go up in smoke if the DeKalb City Council decides to limit them in order to prevent minors from buying cigarettes at a meeting tonight.

City Manager Mark Stevens recommends “the council direct an ordinance to be prepared which restricts cigarette vending machines to establishments with liquor licenses and premises where the public is generally not permitted and where vending machines are strictly for the use of employees of businesses located at such premises.”

In a memo from City Attorney Ron Matekaitis, it stated that there is a recent trend to completely ban cigarette vending machines.

“The law is well settled in a municipality’s favor to restrict the location of cigarette vending machines. Numerous municipalities and some states have enacted laws restricting the location of cigarette vending machines,” Matekaitis said.

A memo from law clerk Barbara Switzer to Matekaitis stated, “The courts found that cities had the police power to regulate cigarette vending so long as the city attempted to protect public health and welfare in a reasonable manner, without violating public or general statutes.”

Included in Switzer’s report were statistics from Dr. Louis Sullivan, secretary of Health and Human Services. “Sullivan provided the following statistics—44 states restrict tobacco sales to minors. Based on a 1990 American Medical Association study, almost one billion packs of cigarettes are illegally sold to minors each year and more than three million minors under 18 spend $1.26 billion a year on cigarettes and chewing tobacco.”

The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the municipal building, 200 S. 4th St.