November 24, 2013

Mayor Emanuel Joins with Community Groups to Push Public Health Ordinances to Curb Youth Smoking

Proposals Would Regulate E-Cigarettes as Tobacco Products and Prohibit the Sale of Flavored Products within 500 Feet of Schools; New Ad Campaign Will Warn Kids of Danger of Flavored Cigarettes

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is joining with a coalition of community groups and aldermen to champion two ordinances aimed at protecting children from tobacco industry strategies to hook them on cigarette products at a young age. The proposed ordinances would regulate e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” pending further regulations from the Food and Drug Administration, and expand the prohibition of flavored tobacco products from 100 feet to 500 feet from a school. The City is also launching a public awareness campaign to educate Chicagoans about the harm of flavored cigarettes.

“Preventing youth from taking up smoking is a key strategy in lowering smoking rates overall and improving the health of Chicagoans,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “E-cigarettes, as well as flavored products, are gateway tobacco products targeted at our kids. The tobacco industry has spent years developing products that are aimed at hooking our youth on nicotine and getting them smoking for their entire life. The City will continue to stand up to Big Tobacco to ensure our children will avoid preventable diseases and live long healthy lives.”

Chicago will become the first major city to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and the first city to impose targeted restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products including mentholated products. The expanded tobacco control policies will make it more difficult for youth to access these products, curtailing preventable diseases and other issues in the future.  Earlier this fall, Chairman Burke and Alderman Burns introduced an ordinance prohibiting the distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, establishing fines for persons who sell to minors, and requiring that sellers post warnings about e-cigarettes. Mayor Emanuel along with Alderman Emma Mitts and Alderman JoAnn Thompson is joining their effort to expand the law’s impact and further advance the City’s efforts to regulate e-cigarettes with these additional actions.

“Protecting our children is something that the entire city needs to do, together,” said Alderman Ed Burke, 14th Ward. “When we identify industries that are targeting our children, we must act swiftly and decisively on behalf of our kids. That is exactly what we are doing here. This ordinance will save lives.”

E-cigarettes are often available in dozens of flavors including cotton candy, gummy bear, bubble gum, Atomic Fireball, cherry cola, cherry limeade, caramel candy, blueberry, orange cream soda, and other kid-friendly flavors. For the first time in Chicago, e-cigarettes will be defined as “tobacco products.” The new policy will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors; prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants, theatres, and everywhere cigarettes are banned; require e-cigarette dealers to be licensed; and move e-cigarettes from in front of the counter to behind the counter. These regulations will reduce the number of youth that pick up tobacco products, which they would carry into adulthood and could potentially cause life-threatening diseases.

"We know far too little about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes and it makes good sense to keep them out of the hands of children," said Alderman Will Burns, 4th Ward.

The second tobacco control ordinance, which will be introduced to city council on Tuesday, November 26, will prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of schools. Flavored cigarettes are a key tool used by the tobacco industry to hook kids on tobacco products. Current city law bans their sale within 100 feet of a school; this amendment will prohibit them within 500 feet of a school.  This will further reduce the opportunities for youth to begin smoking.

“It’s no secret that the tobacco industry uses flavored cigarettes to target kids and turn them into smokers, and that this has widespread negative impact on our communities,” said Fr. Michael Pfleger. “These ordinances will curtail this activity by big tobacco and protect our children from these risks, improving the quality of their lives and making our neighborhoods healthier as a whole.”

“We enthusiastically applaud Mayor Emanuel for taking bold action that will save Black lives,” said Carol McGruder, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.   “We hope Mayor Emanuel’s visionary leadership will inspire much needed action in other cities and towns.”

“We applaud Mayor Emanuel for taking a bold and comprehensive approach to ending the cycle of addiction to harmful tobacco products,” said Joel Africk, Respiratory Health Association President and CEO. “Tobacco products take a deadly toll on our community and menthol cigarettes are particularly popular with young smokers. Restricting sales is the first step in ending the cycle of youth addiction to these harmful products.”

In conjunction with the proposed ordinances, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) will launch a public service advertising campaign that will highlight the dangers of smoking flavored cigarettes as an addictive, gateway product, with a particular focus on the negative effect that these products have on youth.  CDPH worked with LimeGreen, a Chicago-based minority-owned advertising and marketing agency, to develop the campaign.  Some of the advertisements that will be used in this campaign are attached to this release.

The Emanuel Administration is focused on curbing youth smoking, and studies have shown that e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco are disproportionately used by youth. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students doubled from 2011 to 2012. Moreover, e-cigarette users often smoke conventional cigarettes – 76.5% of e-cigarette users also smoke conventional cigarettes. There is also substantial evidence that flavored cigarettes are a “starter” product for youth who begin smoking – in fact, kids (ages aged 12 – to 17) smoke flavored cigarettes at a higher rate than any other age group.

This comes on the heels of Mayor Emanuel calling on the Chicago Board of Health to take action to curb flavored cigarette use in the city of Chicago. The Mayor also has petitioned the United Stated FDA to take serious action against flavored cigarettes, up to and including an outright ban. The proposed ordinances are part of Mayor Emanuel’s call to action under the City of Chicago’s public health agenda entitled “Healthy Chicago.” This is the first-ever comprehensive plan for public health put forth by the City and it continues to serve as a blueprint for a focused approach by CDPH to implement policies and systems changes to priorities and transform the health of Chicago.