FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mayor’s Press Office
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today accepted the Visionary Elected Leader Award from the African American Tobacco Leadership Council (AATCLC) for his efforts to curb the use of flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes among Chicago’s youth. The national organization presented the award to Mayor Emanuel for introducing City ordinances to limit flavored tobacco from being sold within 500 feet of schools and regulating e-cigarettes as tobacco products after holding multiple town hall meetings this fall to discuss how to reduce the use of flavored tobacco products. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) also recently launched an ad campaign to highlight the influence of Big Tobacco. These efforts are part of the Mayor’s overall plan to reduce the use of flavored tobacco products among Chicago youth.
“Flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes are gateway products that can hook our children into becoming life-long smokers,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Preventing youth from starting to smoke is a key strategy to ensure they will avoid preventable diseases associated with the use of tobacco. The City of Chicago will continue to stand against Big Tobacco so our children will live long, healthy lives.”
Mayor Emanuel has launched several initiatives to curtail the use of flavored tobacco products. He has joined with community groups and Chicago aldermen to champion two ordinances aimed at protecting children from the tobacco industry’s strategy to have them start smoking at a young age. The first proposed ordinances would regulate e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” pending further regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The second proposed ordinance would expand the prohibition on the sale of flavored tobacco products from 100 to 500 feet from a school.
“We applaud Mayor Emanuel’s bold efforts to protect children from the harmful use of flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes,” said Carol McGruder, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “We hope other municipalities will follow Chicago’s lead and enact legislation to make sure these products do not fall into the hands of our kids.”
This action follows Mayor Emanuel calling on the Chicago Board of Health to work with the community to help identify innovative solutions to limit the use of flavored products, particularly among youth. The Chicago Board of Health and CDPH held multiple town hall meetings and launched an online web form to engage residents in conversation to reduce this preventable addiction before it becomes part of a young person’s life. Mayor Emanuel also petitioned the FDA to take serious action against flavored tobacco products. These efforts are part of Mayor Emanuel’s public health agenda, “Healthy Chicago,” which is the first-ever comprehensive plan for public health put forth by the City of Chicago.
“Mayor Emanuel has shown great leadership to reduce the use of flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes among children,” said Phillip Gardiner, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “We honor his commitment to ensuring Chicago’s youth do not start smoking, as they would be more likely to be life-long users.”
The Emanuel Administration is focused on curbing youth smoking. According to the National Youth Survey, the use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students doubled from 2011 to 2012. Mayor Emanuel has spent his career working to curb smoking among youth. While in Congress, he co-sponsored the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which President Obama signed into law while he was working in the White House. This action provided the FDA with the authority to ban flavored cigarettes as they have been used by the tobacco industry to market to youth.
About the African American Tobacco Leadership Council
Formed in 2008, the African American Tobacco Leadership Council is comprised of nationally recognized tobacco control leaders from the fields of public health, public policy, community-based interventions, media advocacy and research. Based in California, the Council educates the African American community on tobacco use and cessation, partners with community stakeholders and public health agencies to inform and affect the direction of tobacco policy, practices and priorities, as it affects the lives of African Americans.