Spurred on by an increase in vaping by teens, efforts in Illinois to ban all flavored tobacco is meeting resistance.
A city of Chicago committee on Health and Human Relations backed an ordinance to ban the sale of flavored vaping products, after efforts to prohibit all flavored tobacco of any kind stalled. The city council will take up the measure Sept. 9.
Opponents of such bans say vaping is much safer than smoking cigarettes and many teens and younger adults will turn to the form harmful alternative if such restrictions are put into place.
According to a recent study by researchers at Yale University, the use of these flavors is associated with positive smoking cessation outcomes for adults but is not associated with increased youth smoking. Another Yale study from 2017 found that “a ban on flavored e-cigarettes would drive smokers to combustible cigarettes, which have been found to be the more harmful way of getting nicotine.”
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But Kristina Hamilton, the Illinois director of advocacy for the American Lung Association, said more restrictions are needed.
“We feel that the ordinance that passed out of the health committee does not do enough to protect our most vulnerable communities,” Hamilton said.
At the center of the debate are menthol and tobacco flavored products, which Hamilton said are popular with Blacks, Latinos and the LGBT community.
“An ordinance that exempts those products that are popular in those communities really abandons those communities and doesn’t protect them from these harmful products,” Hamilton said.
Retail groups argued smokers would simply go elsewhere to buy smoking materials.
Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said it is important to note that menthol and tobacco flavored products are not popular with teens, who are the focus of the ordinance.
“Those two, federal government studies have shown, are the least attracted to teens and certainly highly attractive to adults,” said Dawood.
Dawood, who testified last week before the committee, said Illinois merchants have been through enough.
“Retailers have suffered greatly, not only to COVID, but also to the looting,” Dawood said. “To ask us to pull products off the shelf is a really tough thing when we are already losing so much.”
As to whether a ban could be implemented statewide, Dawood adds that “Chicago is not an island.”
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via Alton Daily News
September 9, 2020 at 06:37AM