Health Committee Fails Chicago’s Black, Latino Youth

Exempting menthol cigarettes from proposed ordinance would exacerbate public health inequality in Chicago

Today, the Committee on Health and Human Relations voted to pass a proposed ordinance that falls short of protecting Chicago’s youth and communities of color.

The Committee agreed on a proposed ordinance that ends the sale of flavored e-cigarettes but does not prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products as was proposed in the original ordinance.

“The Lung Association urges the City Council to table this measure until the Council is ready to pass a comprehensive ordinance that includes all flavored tobacco products. We oppose moving forward with an ordinance that only addresses flavored e-cigarettes,“ said Kristina Hamilton, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association.

Exempting menthol cigarettes would create a two-tiered system of public health inequality. This ordinance disproportionately protects predominantly White communities where e-cigarettes are more popular while abandoning kids in predominantly Black, Latino and LGBTQ+ communities where menthols are more popular.

"It is past time we put an end to the tobacco industry’s targeting of our youth and people of color. This ordinance will not protect the health of some of our most vulnerable communities,” continued Hamilton

Tobacco companies have long used flavors to aggressively lure kids into being lifelong customers. Restricting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, hookah and smokeless tobacco will also help protect our kids. City council shouldn’t wait to ensure our kids are protected from tobacco’s deadly toll. At current usage rates, 230,000 kids under 18 in Illinois right now will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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