Chicago Mayor Accepts Award for Cigarette Regulation Legislation
Written by James P. Nevin
Chicago Mayor Rahn Emanuel accepted an award from an Oakland, California based anti-tobacco group for his cigarette regulation efforts.
The mayor recently attempted to ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited and block sales to minors, but the city’s aldermen voted against his legislation. Instead, the City Council’s Finance and Health Committees agreed to ban the sale of menthol and flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of Chicago schools, which is five times the existing radius.
Emmanuel received the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council’s Visionary Elected Leader Award at a City Hall news conference with members who had flown to Chicago to present the award. A member of the organization stated that the group hopes to use Emmanuel’s work in Chicago as a road map for other cities to enact stronger tobacco regulations.
The mayor used the opportunity to discuss the stall he encountered from the city’s aldermen when trying to push a tougher set of rules for electronic smoking devices. Some of the aldermen argued the health effects from the electronic cigarettes’ smoke have not been determined and it would be difficult for business owners to outlaw the devices. Others stated that adult smokers use e-cigarettes to help quit smoking regular cigarettes.
Emmanuel insists their responses are influenced by Big Tobacco, and its high-powered lobbyists as part of their agenda to convince the public that e-cigarettes are not dangerous. The mayor stated that it is his goal, along with Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair, to cut off minor’s access to gateway products that lead to cigarette smoking. Products such as e-cigarettes, menthol and flavored tobacco are used to lure children into a lifetime addiction to smoking.
The attempted ban on e-cigarettes is part of the mayor’s ongoing efforts to make Chicago a more expensive and difficult place to smoke. Recently, he also made an effort to raise the city’s cigarette tax by 75 cents a pack in 2014, but the law was amended to a 50-cent bump.