Mayor Emanuel Takes Action to Protect Chicago’s Kids from Menthol Cigarettes

Official Statement of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago

Chicago, IL (July 25, 2013)

CHICAGO (July 25, 2013) – The American Lung Association in Greater Chicago supports Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the strong steps he is taking to protect our city’s kids from the health problems caused by menthol cigarettes.

In a letter this week, Mayor Emanuel asked the Chicago Board of Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to undertake a series of initiatives aimed at curtailing the use of menthol cigarettes by youth in Chicago, including:

  • Hosting a series of town hall meetings to identify innovative, community-driven solutions to reduce menthol cigarette use among Chicago’s youth; and
  • Launching a tobacco prevention ad campaign this fall that focuses on menthol cigarette use.

“As tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 443,000 Americans and costing the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year, the Lung Association in Greater Chicago stands ready to support the efforts of Mayor Emanuel and the CDPH,” said Meghan Miller, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago.

“This is an important step toward protecting our children from tobacco addiction. We remain committed to win the fight against this deadly epidemic.”

The Mayor also cited disconcerting facts, such as:

  • Among African-American youth ages 12-17 who smoke, 72 percent use menthol cigarettes; and
  • Among LGBT youth who smoke, 71 percent smoke menthol.
  • In March 2011, an FDA scientific advisory committee found that menthol cigarettes have been disproportionately marketed to youth and African Americans.

Mayor Emanuel’s initiative comes just days after the American Lung Association repeated its call to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace because they pose a greater threat to public health.  A new report issued Tuesday by the FDA found that menthol in cigarettes is more likely to lead to new users, primarily youth, starting to smoke as well as them becoming regular users; leads to increased smoking dependence; and makes it harder for existing smokers, especially African Americans, to quit. FDA also found that younger smokers, African American and other minority smokers, and female smokers are also more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes.