Chicago City Council may take up an ordinance at Wednesday's meeting
that would ban flavored tobacco products, including menthol, from being
sold 500 feet from a school. The current radius banning such sales near schools is 100 feet. The City Council’s Finance and Health Committees signed off and advanced the measure Monday.
Rahm Emanuel has also been pushing to outlaw e-cigarettes in the same
places where smoking is banned, as well as sales of the devices to
minors, but the measure did not win approval in committee this week due
to pushback from several aldermen. Critics say the mayor's proposed
e-cigarette regulations may hinder people from using the product to stop
“We’re punishing a group of people for trying not to
smoke. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t on one day say, ‘We’re
going to tax the heck out of cigarettes,’ then the next day [say], ‘For
those of you who can’t afford it and decide you want to smoke vapor,
we’re going to decide you can’t do that, either,’” Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Hairston also noted that,
“There is no proof that water vapor in the air does anything. If that is
the case, humidifiers are gone. And boiling water is gone in
Emanuel fired back at opponents of the e-cigarette ban at a news conference Tuesday after he was presented with a
“Visionary Elected Leader Award” from the African-American Tobacco
Leadership Council regarding the proposed restrictions on sales of
flavored tobacco products near schools.
vote is about who's going to stand up for kids. Who's not going to be
lured by the money? Who is not going to be lured by this research that
is going to say oh, we don’t know. Well the FDA has been asking for
information. Put it out,” Emanuel said at the press conference, adding,
"If you think e-cigarettes are part of quitting as an adult, OK. But
we’re talking about: Don’t let kids get started on e-cigarettes. . .
.We’re talking about our children here. Keep your hands off of them.”
Meanwhile, the city will be imposing a 50 cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase next year as part of the 2014 budget.
UPDATE (2:55 p.m.): At Wednesday's meeting, the Chicago City Council voted 48-2 to approve the ordinance
concerning the sale of flavored tobacco products near schools.
The two "no" votes came from Alds. Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Willie Cochran (20th).
After the vote, Emanuel told council members that he "respects those that
voted 'no,'" but explained that the measure is a "no-brainer."
Tobacco companies market flavored cigarettes to children in an "attempt to lure them, and I'm sorry, to become addicts," Emanuel stressed.
Emanuel went on to highlight the city's various efforts aimed at improving children's health in the city.
child will be within a 10-minute walk from a new park," he noted. "We
put recess back in the schools. We changed their meals to make them
better quality, and we are going to allow these cigarette products, that
we know from all the research target minority kids, to be within 500
feet of the schools?"
"Kids don't have sometimes the
judgement, and we as adults have to show it," Emanuel continued. "Now,
I'm sorry, I've had a career battling big tobacco. They have a bottom
line, but we have a future, and that's the children of the city of
Chicago, and our children are not for sale...What do you want? 200 feet?
300 feet? It's not a compromise" for Chicago's youth and their health.
Meanwhile, Emanuel warned council members that the issue of banning
e-cigarettes will come up again early next year when aldermen
come back from their break.
"The next month,
you'll see some intensity around here, because tobacco companies are
coming to Chicago, and they're hiring people to work you over just like
they did in Congress," he told the council members. "So get ready. This is a
time for moral courage to realize where you stand as it relates to the
future of our children...and I look forward to that battle, because our
children are not part of somebody else's bottom line."