Chicago Stands out Nationally as One of Few Areas Making Strides in Tobacco Control

American Lung Association issues “State of Tobacco Control 2014” Report

CHICAGO (January 22, 2014)

The battle to reduce tobacco use has all but stalled across most of the country, but Cook County and Chicago stand out as two of the few areas to make positive headway in preventing tobacco-caused illness and death. Those were the findings of the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014 report” released today. 

“Chicago has made great strides in comprehensive tobacco control recently. Just last week the Chicago City Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of regulating e-cigarettes. The ordinance will help protect the health and safety of Chicago’s youth, as well as protect everyone from the secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes. In December, the Council also passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of schools in the City. Also in December, Chicago became the city with the nation’s highest cigarette tax. So, we’re proud of Chicago but we also recognize that there is still more work to do,” said Meghan Miller, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago.

Fifty years since the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health was issued on January 11, 1964, and less than a week after the new Surgeon General’s report providing the latest research was released, the Lung Association’s new report issues an urgent call to action to policymakers in Chicago and across the country.  Policymakers must reverse their present course and commit to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease. 

“Despite strides in reducing smoking rates in America by half in the last 50 years, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., including lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of both men and women in America,” said Miller. “The Surgeon General’s 2014 report is the clarion call that our nation needs to renew its commitment.”

The Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014,” 12th annual report tracks yearly progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.  The 2014 report highlights the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases for the first time.

In advance of the 50th anniversary, the American Lung Association and its partners called for action by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals: 

Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years;

Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and

Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

Cook County and Chicago received the following grades for State of Tobacco 2014. All cities and counties listed earned “A” grades. Illinois’ statewide cigarette tax received a “C” grade in the American Lung Association’s report.  You can view Illinois’ full report card here

City/County Total State/Local Cigarette Tax Grade
 Berwyn  $5.14  A
 Chicago  $6.16  A
 Cicero  $5.14  A
 Evanston  $5.48  A
 Cook County*  $4.98  A

* Includes all other cities and unincorporated areas of Cook County

“Chicago has the fortunate distinction of being one of the few places to make progress in the fight against tobacco use in 2013, and protect its citizens from tobacco-caused diseases like lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of both men and women.  However, Big Tobacco continues to rob our health and wealth with clever new tactics to lure new youth smokers, so it’s important that we don’t let our guard down and continue the fight,” said Miller.

“Smokers want to quit and Illinois has a responsibility to help, especially to help those who least can afford it. Helping smokers quit saves lives and money.  Sadly, not a single state earned an A grade for cessation in this year’s ‘State of Tobacco Control 2014’ report,” explained Miller. “Illinois policymakers must act now to ensure everyone eligible for new health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act has access to a comprehensive tobacco cessation benefit.” 

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new users and keeping current users from quitting in 2013.  This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.

The three largest cigarette manufacturers—Altria, Reynolds American, and Lorillard—continued their aggressive expansion into tobacco products other than cigarettes in 2013. As cigarette use continues to gradually decline, these companies continue to maintain their stranglehold on America’s youth and reap profits from smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes.

“I urge everyone in the City of Chicago to join the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago and renew their commitment to preventing another 50 years of tobacco caused death and disease,” said Miller.

Media contact: James A. Martinez; O: 312-445-2501; C: 312-718-5875; E: James.Martinez@Lung.org.

About the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago
Our mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungIL.org.