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It sounded like the right thing for Wilmette lawmakers to do: Find an underage teen smoking and sock 'em with a $250 fine. Hit teens in the wallet and you'll stop them from smoking, Wilmette officials figured. But they were persuaded to scrap their plans by an unusual opponent: the Cook County Public Health Department, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"On its face, it sounds very attractive to go after the kids," said Janet Williams, director of tobacco prevention and control for the county health department. "But governments need to start going after the people who seduce and market these things to the teens."
So when Wilmette's youth commission was recently asked to look at the proposed teen possession ordinance, it was Williams who swayed the teens' votes.
A number of communities in the North Shore area have laws against teens possessing tobacco. Most of these communities stand by their policies.
A spokesman for the Northbrook, Ill., Police Department said his department usually doesn't get too many repeat offenders because teen smoking fines in his community double with each offense. But, he added, the department finds that kids who are fined will usually be more cautious by smoking inside or in private so not to get busted again.