Chicago Continues to Stand out Nationally, Making Strides in Tobacco Control | American Lung Association

Chicago Continues to Stand out Nationally, Making Strides in Tobacco Control

(January 21, 2015)

Today, the American Lung Association released its 13th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report. It conveys continued progress in 2014 for Cook County and Chicago, which stand out as two of the areas that are enacting tobacco control policies to save lives and help end the tobacco epidemic. The report finds that unlike Chicago, most cities, states and the federal government earned poor grades, and their tobacco control progress is at a virtual standstill. 

“It was a banner year for tobacco control initiatives in 2014 for the City of Chicago. A number of laws and ordinances went into effect last year. Chicago became the city with the nation’s highest cigarette tax and e-cigarettes were regulated to help protect the health and safety of Chicago’s youth, as well as protect them from big tobacco’s target marketing and the industry’s attempt to re-glamorize smoking. Youth smoking in our city is at a historic low — declining roughly 20% in just the last two years,” said Kristen Young, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago.

“Cook County and Chicago continue to make strides to protect the health of our community. So, we’re proud of Chicago but we also recognize that there is still more work to do,” said Kristen Young, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago,” Young said.

Cook County and Chicago received the following grades for State of Tobacco 2015. All cities and counties listed earned “A” grades. Illinois’ statewide Tobacco Taxes grade for State of Tobacco Control 2015 includes other tobacco product taxes in it this year.  Therefore, a direct comparison between the state grade and the local cigarette taxes grades cannot be made.

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

The “State of Tobacco Control 2015” report evaluates tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, and assigns grades based on whether laws protect citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives. The new report comes following the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Surgeon General’s report, which first sounded the alarm on the dangers of smoking. Now 51 years later, tobacco use kills almost half a million Americans and causes up to $333 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity each year. In 2014, the American Lung Association and its partners called for immediate action on tobacco use by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals:

Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent by 2024;

Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke by 2019; and

Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

“The American Lung Association urges states and the federal government to take needed steps to achieve these bold goals,” said Young. “It’s no secret how to reduce tobacco use in the United States, our state and federal leaders need to muster the political will to implement these proven policies. Our nation cannot afford the health or financial consequences of their continued failure to act.”

“Smokefree workplace laws, high tobacco taxes, funding tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended levels and providing insurance coverage for quit smoking treatments have been proven to reduce tobacco use.  All that is missing in Illinois is the political will from our elected officials,” said Young.

Health insurance coverage to provide smokers access to all the tools proven to help them quit, was a hot topic again in 2014. All state health insurance commissioners must make sure insurance plans, under their authority, are following the guidance on cessation treatments issued by the federal government in May 2014.

Overall, no state passed a comprehensive smokefree law or significantly increased tobacco taxes, and not a single state managed to earn an “A” grade for providing access to cessation treatments in this year’s ‘State of Tobacco Control 2015’ report. Only two states are funding their state tobacco prevention programs at the updated levels recommended by CDC. See how other states scored at

“The federal government, each state and even Chicago still have a lot of work to do to improve upon this year’s State of Tobacco Control report. I urge all Chicagoans to support the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago and help us tell our city, state and federal leaders to take action now to save lives,” said Young.  

“State of Tobacco Control 2015” uses updated methodology to reflect the updated 2014 CDC Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs.  It also incorporates other tobacco product taxes and tobacco cessation coverage under Medicaid expansion into the grades.  Because of revisions to the methodology, all grades from State of Tobacco Control 2015 cannot be directly compared to grades from State of Tobacco Control 2014 or earlier reports. 

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 

MEDIA CONTACT: James A. Martinez; American Lung Association in Illinois; O: 312-445-2501; C: 312-718-5875; E:

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