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Chicago Leads State in Tobacco Control Efforts

New report reveals positive grades for Chicago, failing grades for state of Illinois

(January 30, 2019) - CHICAGO

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]

Today, the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago released the 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" report, which revealed positive grades for Chicago, yet failing grades for the full state of Illinois its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use.

The 17th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that elected officials in Chicago have made significant progress to ensure local residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:

  • Smokefree Air: Grade A
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21: Grade A
  • Local Tobacco Taxes: Grade A

The grades for Chicago are significantly higher than the grades for the state of Illinois, which received an "F" grade for tobacco taxes, an "F" grade for the minimum age of sale for tobacco products, an "F" grade for tobacco prevention and control funding, and an "F" in coverage and access to services to quit tobacco.

The need for Illinois to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.

"In Illinois, our smoking rates remain at 15.5 percent and tobacco use remains the state's leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing more than 18,000 people per year. We need to invest in proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use such as raising the legal sales age of tobacco products," said Kathy Drea from the Lung Association.

The American Lung Association encourages Illinois to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and in particular, this year's report noted the need to focus on passing legislation to raise the legal sales age of tobacco products to 21 statewide, known as Tobacco 21. This law is a powerful tool to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use.

"Tobacco is a highly addictive product, and close to 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette by the age of 21. Tobacco 21 would significantly reduce youth tobacco use, slow the e-cigarette epidemic and save thousands of lives," said Drea. "In the 2019 'State of Tobacco Control' report, we call for state legislators and Governor J.B. Pritzker to take action to protect the children of Illinois by raising the minimum sales age for tobacco, including e-cigarettes, to 21."

The 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S. The real question is: Will lawmakers in Illinois end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

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