City of Chicago getting Tough on Smokers, E-cigs includedChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Illinois smokers to curb their nasty habit by adding another 75 cent per pack tax to cigarettes and further regulating e-cigarettes. This new tax is added to the dollar increase passed in March.The new tax will bring the overall tax rate per pack to $7.42 – making the average price per pack in Illinois rise from $9 – $10 to $10.25 – $12.50. This makes Chicago home of the highest combined state and local cigarette tax in the nation, and if Emanuel has his way, the toughest e-cigarette regulations as well.
Where do E-Cig Products fall into all of these changes?“Preventing youth from taking up smoking is a key strategy in lowering smoking rates overall and improving the health of Chicagoans,” said 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.”Emanuel’s proposed ordinances will crack down on flavored tobacco, assumably marketed to youth, as well as menthol cigarettes, also preferred. To illustrate, e-cig flavors include cotton candy, gummy bear, bubble gum, atomic fireball, caramel candy and many others. As it is, studies show these products are used disproportionately by young people. According a National Youth Tobacco Survey, use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students doubled from 2011 to 2012. And of those who go on to smoke the old way, menthol seems to be preferred over standard tobacco, at least for the young. A $338,689 campaign using billboards and advertising focused on the danger of smoking menthol cigarettes.Emanuel, with Alderman Will Burns, want e-cigarettes regulated as “tobacco products” which are subject to Chicago’s smoking ban. That means no sales to minors, product placement must be behind the counter, and no using e-cigs indoors, including in hotel rooms, within 10 feet of building entrances, and within 500 feet of Chicago schools – more that five times the existing radius. The tax increase should be approved in the 2014 budget.
Hope for the anti cigarette campaignIn the Daily Flix, City Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair called the increase, “a life-saving measure” that he hopes will persuade kids to quit smoking or avoid taking that first puff. Kids aged 12-17 smoke flavored cigarettes at a higher rate than any other age group.“We know that adolescent smokers use flavored products. That’s how Big Tobacco gets these kids addicted. They lure them in with colorful packaging and sweet flavors. They pick up these cigarettes, and that’s how they become lifelong addicts,” said Choucair.Emanuel has also called on the city’s Board of Health and the FDA to take action against these flavored cigs, as he, too, considers them just another tactic by the tobacco industry to recruit a new generation of nicotine addicts. He wants e-cigarette dealers to be licensed, according to the Chicago Sun Times.In addition to the two new ordinances and tax increase, the city will mount a public health advertising campaign, highlighting the dangers of smoking flavored cigarettes, calling them an addictive, gateway product. There is substantial evidence to suggest that 75% of youthful e-cigarette smokers also smoke conventional cigarettes.Carol McGruder, Co-Chair of the African-American Tobacco Control, heartily agreed, stating in the Mayor’s press release, “We hope Mayor Emanuel’s visionary leadership will inspire much needed action in other cities and towns.” Respiratory Health and Association President and CEO, Joel Africk, also agreed.“We applaud Mayor Emanuel for taking a bold and comprehensive approach to ending the cycle of addiction to harmful tobacco products.”
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