FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Efrat Stein
CHICAGO, IL - Today, on "Kick Butts Day," the City of Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced a new public awareness campaign to stop the sale of cigarettes to youth. 80% of adults who smoke started before they were 18 years old. On average, every day 3,900 young people ages 12-17 smoke their first cigarette.
The campaign includes ads on CTA trains and buses that encourage residents to call 311 if they see tobacco being sold to a minor. The advertising was created in partnership with Respiratory Health Association and funded in part by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) regulates the sale of tobacco products and enforces the laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco products to minors through the Tobacco Sales to Minors program. Inspections are also in response to resident complaints and through routine license compliance checks.
A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, shows that nationwide declines in the use of tobacco by youth and young adults have slowed for cigarette smoking and stalled for smokeless tobacco use after years of steady progress.
"We know that the younger kids are when they first try tobacco, the more likely they are to get addicted," said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "This campaign is an opportunity for the public to take an active role by encouraging them to report tobacco being sold to a minor."
CDPH is committed to reducing Chicago's youth smoking rate as part of Healthy Chicago, a citywide plan to make Chicago the healthiest city in the nation.
"Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in Chicago and the United States. Reducing youth tobacco use is an important priority toward reducing the toll of tobacco related illness and death," said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association.
Almost one in four adults and one in eight high school students smoke regularly in Chicago. For each tobacco related death, another 20 people struggle with one or more serious tobacco related illnesses such as lung disease. Second hand smoke causes many health problems as well, including heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma to name a few.
"Businesses are held accountable when they are given a license to sell tobacco and required not to sell to minors," Rosemary Krimbel, Commissioner for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. "The sale of tobacco is strictly enforced in Chicago and this campaign should send a message to retailers that the sale of tobacco to a minor is not only illegal, but the impact can be deadly."
CDPH is working towards reducing tobacco use in teens and exposure to second hand smoke in the following ways:
About Kick Butts Day
Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak out, stand up and seize control against Big Tobacco. A list of Kick Butts Day activities taking place around Chicago is available here.
CDPH and its partners offer classes to help people quit smoking (cessation) and prevent young people from smoking. You can also call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937).
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) works to make Chicago a safer and healthier place by working with community partners to promote health, prevent disease, reduce environmental hazards and ensure access to health care for all Chicagoans. Visit us at www.cityofchicago.org/health to learn more about how CDPH is transforming the health of our city.
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